Surface temperatures in Siberia heat up to a mind-boggling 118 degrees

Temperature-tracking satellites are monitoring sweltering heat above the Arctic Circle.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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This Sentinel-3 satellite image shows the June 20 heat wave striking above the Arctic Circle in Siberia. The darker reds indicate higher land surface temperatures.

European Union/Copernicus Sentinel-3 imagery

It's not just the Western region of the US that's sweltering right now. Siberia in Russia is baking, and satellites are bearing witness to a brutal heat wave above the Arctic Circle. Copernicus Sentinel-3A and Sentinel-3B satellites captured a snapshot of land surface temperatures on June 20, and it was hot.

According to NASA, "Land surface temperature is how hot the 'surface' of the Earth would feel to the touch in a particular location." The Sentinel image shows a peak ground temperature of 118 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius) near Verkhojansk, a small town usually known for its extreme cold temperatures.

The World Meteorological Organization has been tracking the rise in temperatures around the world. "The most dramatic change is in the Arctic, which is warming more than twice as fast as the global average," the agency said Monday in a statement aimed at raising awareness of the urgency to act on the climate crisis.

The European Commission's Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space, which implements the Copernicus program, tweeted that the town of Saskylah saw air temperatures of about 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) on June 20, the highest on record there since 1936.

This year's high temperatures in the Arctic follow sizzling spells from previous years. A huge glacier disintegrated in Greenland in 2020, another victim of the climate crisis. Severe wildfires burned across Siberia in 2019 and again in 2020.

The Arctic region of Siberia has long been thought of as a cold place, but heat waves and wildfires could drastically alter that image.