Siberia: Still Baking and Burning

By Tom Yulsman | August 2, 2013 12:21 pm

The map above shows how temperatures departed from the long-term average in Siberia July 20-27, 2013. (Image: NASA Earth Observatory)

Last Sunday I posted a story about fires blazing in Siberia, which had been baking in near-record temperatures for over a week. Now, NASA’s Earth Observatory has produced this map with an accompanying piece documenting just how hot temperatures have been in the region.

The reddest colors indicate where high temperatures were more than 15 degrees C warmer than the long term average between July 20 and 27. The northern city of Norilsk is in one of those red areas. Daily high July temperatures there typically average 16 degrees C (61 degrees F). But during that week they soared to 32 degrees C (90F).

Norilsk, among other places, is not expected to see much relief for awhile. Highs in the upper 80s and low 90s are forecast for the weekend. And much warmer than normal temperatures are forecast for all of next week. (You can check the weather in Norilsk here.)

By blocking weather systems that would bring rain and cooler temperatures, a persistent high pressure system is the proximate cause of the high temperatures, according to NASA. But by making high temperatures even higher than they otherwise would be, human-caused global warming also plays a role.

The result:

An animation of images captured by NASA’s Terra satellite southeast of Norilsk, Russia. Please click for the animation. (Images: NASA)

Click on the image above for an animation showing an area of Siberia southeast of Norilsk. The first image was captured by NASA’s Terra satellite on July 26th, and the second on August 1 — after a cluster of wildfires had ignited.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the summer develops.



ImaGeo is a visual blog focusing on the intersection of imagery, imagination and Earth. It focuses on spectacular visuals related to the science of our planet, with an emphasis (although not an exclusive one) on the unfolding Anthropocene Epoch.

About Tom Yulsman

Tom Yulsman is Director of the Center for Environmental Journalism and a Professor of Journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He also continues to work as a science and environmental journalist with more than 30 years of experience producing content for major publications. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Audubon, Climate Central, Columbia Journalism Review, Discover, Nieman Reports, and many other publications. He has held a variety of editorial positions over the years, including a stint as editor-in-chief of Earth magazine. Yulsman has written one book: Origins: the Quest for Our Cosmic Roots, published by the Institute of Physics in 2003.


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