Wildfires in Siberia have grown five-fold over the past week amid an unprecedented heatwave, according to Russia’s forest fire aerial protection service. This came after the town of Verkhoyansk hit 38 °C (100.4 °F), marking the hottest-ever temperature recorded above the Arctic Circle. The record was verified by Russia’s state weather authority on June 30.
“From above, Siberia looks like a smoky wasteland,” said meteorologist Dakota Smith, a scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA).
“Tough to see because of the clouds, but there is an insane number of fires over a massive area,” he added, describing that it was “one large blanket of smoke.”
According to figures reported by Russian aerial forest fire management Avialesookhrana, about 1.2 million ha (2.9 million acres) are burning in Siberia in areas unaccessible to firefighters, as of Saturday, June 27.
In the Sakha Republic, where Verkhoyansk is located, up to 929 000 ha (2.3 million acres) are on fire.
From June 18 to 28, 2020, the maximum temperature in Verkhoyansk exceeded 30 °C (86 °F), with a peak on June 20 at 38 °C (100.4 °F) — marking the hottest-ever temperature recorded above the Arctic Circle. The average June 2020 temperature in Verkhojansk was 19.2 °C (66.5 °F), the warmest since records began.
The heatwave in the region continues to date.