MOSCOW: Moscow has been hit by a historic heatwave this week, with temperatures reaching a 120-year record due to the effects of climate change, Russia’s weather service said on Tuesday.

On Monday the temperature in the Russian capital hit 34.7 degrees Celsius, according to Roshydromet, matching the record for a June day in 1901.

The weather service, which has kept records since 1881, is forecasting temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius on Thursday and Friday. “The increase in temperatures recorded in Moscow for these days is unprecedented in 120 years,” Roshydromet meteorologist Marina Makarova said. “This is because of global climate change.”

The highest-ever recorded temperature in Moscow — more than 38 degrees Celsius — was recorded in July 2010 when much of western Russia was hit by a massive heatwave and huge fires.

Russia’s second city Saint Petersburg, some 600 kilometres northwest of Moscow, has also seen a heatwave this month, with temperatures hitting 34 degrees Celsius, the highest since 1998.

Heatwaves have become more likely due to climate change, scientists say. As global temperatures rise over time, heatwaves are predicted to become more frequent and intense, and their impacts more widespread.

Russia has set numerous heat records over the past few years and in June last year registered temperatures of 38 degrees Celsius in the town of Verkhoyansk — the highest temperature recorded above the Arctic circle since measurements began.

The rising temperatures have contributed to devastating floods and forest fires that have affected Siberia with increasing regularity over recent years.

They are also contributing to the melting of Russia’s permafrost, which covers about two-thirds of the country’s large territory.

Russia is also set to benefit from climate change, with a historic decline in the summer ice cover of Russia’s Arctic maritime shipping route, called the Northern Sea Route, allowing for longer transit periods.

Published in Dawn, July 23rd, 2021

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