June 2021 was the second-hottest June in Russia’s recorded history, with even more record-breaking heat to come, the country’s weather chief said at a press conference Tuesday.
Russia recorded its all-time temperature record for the month of June less than a decade ago in 2012. The country can expect to see more records broken in the near future, said Roman Vilfand, the head of research at Russian meteorological service Rosgidromet.
This summer could become the hottest in Russia’s history, Vilfand said, but noted that it’s still too early to say for certain.
“Due to climate change, the current records will be broken again in the next 10 years, that I can guarantee,” Vilfand said during the press conference with the state-run TASS news agency.
Last month was also the hottest June since records began 130 years ago for European Russia, where the majority of the country’s population lives, Vilfand said.
He said the high June temperatures have been especially pronounced in Russia’s major cities, with St. Petersburg seeing its hottest June ever and Moscow experiencing its third-hottest June.
Average June temperatures in Russia were approximately 3 degrees Celsius higher than normal, scientists from the St. Petersburg-based Voeikov Main Geophysical Observatory told The Moscow Times last week.
Russia’s northern regions have also sweltered this summer with multiple cities and villages experiencing their hottest-ever temperatures. Some settlements beyond the Arctic Circle measured higher temperatures than those along the Mediterranean Sea.
Russia is warming 2.5 times faster than Earth as a whole, making its territory vulnerable to irregular weather patterns like hurricanes, heavy rainstorms and rapid weather changes, Vilfand said.
The prolonged heat waves are also intensifying wildfires, he said, but added that today’s conditions aren’t as severe as they were during the deadly wildfire season of 2010, which saw Moscow and nearby regions blanketed in thick smog amid a record heat wave.
According to many scientists, Russia — especially its Siberian and Arctic regions — is among the countries most exposed to climate change.
Russia has set numerous records in recent years and in June 2020 registered 38 degrees Celsius (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in the town of Verkhoyansk — the highest temperature recorded above the Arctic Circle since measurements began.
The rising mercury levels have contributed to devastating floods and forest fires that have affected Siberia with increasing regularity.
They are also contributing to the melting of permafrost, which covers about two-thirds of Russia's vast territory.
AFP contributed reporting.