Russia is normally considered a bastion for cold. But it just experienced its warmest winter since records started some 130 years ago. And we can all blame climate change.
Large parts of Russia were anywhere from 6 to 8 degrees Celsius (7.2 to 12.4 degrees Fahrenheit) hotter than normal, according to data kept by Russia’s weather service. That smashes the previous record set in the winter of 2015-16 by 1.3 degrees Celsius (2.3 degrees Fahrenheit). Amid the widespread heat were major records in places like Moscow, which barely got a winter at all this year.
All this out-of-season warmth messed with the region’s flora and fauna. As the Washington Post reported, flowers started to bloom early in the winter, and some bears even awoke from hibernation at the Bolsherechensky Zoo. That’s the type of weird shit that happens when temperatures rises are this extreme. This is the result of a warmth that hasn’t been felt at least since 1891.
“Natural conditions in Russia are quickly changing over large territories, including the Arctic zone, where particularly strong climate changes are taking place,” Alexander Rodin, head of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology’s environmental and planetary sciences program, wrote in a statement to Earther.
It’s no wonder Siberia could become a popular place to live by the end of the century.
The intense winter heat in Russia was a major contributor to global heat this winter. NASA data released on Wednesday shows this was the second hottest winter, trailing only 2015-16. That winter, the world was in the midst of a Super El Niño, a natural climate pattern that boosts global temperatures even further.
This winter, there’s been no El Niño in sight, let alone a supercharged one. Large parts of eastern North America also went without winter, and temperatures rose up to 4 degrees Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) above the 1951-1980 average that NASA data uses. Australia also had a deadly, destructive bushfire season fueled by climate change.