The Arctic Circle — the realm of polar bears and dwindling sea ice at the top of the world — hit 90 degrees Fahrenheit, 32 degrees Celsius, this week.
This was the temperature in Banak, Norway on July 30, though some Norwegian areas even reached a couple degrees warmer, according to the European meteorology site severe-weather.eu. Banak sits atop northern Europe, over 350 miles above the bottom edge of the Arctic Circle.
The greater Northern Hemisphere and Europe itself have been repeatedly scorched by both record and near-record temperatures this summer, a consequence of overall rising global temperatures.
sensation de déjà-vu ce 30 juillet#Norvège🇳🇴Laponie, Finnmark, 70°N
29.7°C Vardø améliorant son record absolu de chaleur récent (28° le 19/07)
32.3 Lakselv et Tana Bru (un peu moins que le 19)#Finlande🇫🇮, 65°N
33.2°C Oulu, record >33° 29/07/2010
32.8 île Hailuoto, record pic.twitter.com/pmFVq1ci7R
— Etienne Kapikian (@EKMeteo) July 30, 2018
In the past 40 years, Earth's climate has experienced an accelerated warming trend, which adds an extra level of background warming to hot spells — making heatwaves more extreme, climate scientists have said.
And the heat at the top of the world really drives that home.
A photo of what appears to be Scandinavian folks taking a dip in a river while reindeer — the cold-adapted, antlered, herbivores — cooled off in the water beside them is perhaps the best example of just how hot it is in parts of the Arctic Circle right now.
— severe-weather.EU (@severeweatherEU) July 31, 2018
The "warm season" in Banak is short, lasting around three months, but the very warmest day of the year, around July 23, is usually around 62 degrees Fahrenheit — about 30 degrees cooler than temperatures there now. Overall, temperatures in northern Europe are between 14 to 21 degrees Fahrenheit, 8 to 13 degrees Celsius, above average.
All-time temperature records were set in both Norway and Finland on July 30, including 86 degrees Fahrenheit, 30 degrees Celsius, in Verde, near Banak, though extreme or near-record temperatures blanketed the region.
Persistent heat and dryness this summer have transformed normally verdant European countries into brown and yellow lands, and the continent's extreme heat is expected to persist.
Temperatures across Iberia could beat the all time continental European record of 48.0 °C later this week. The intense #heatwave will extend into much of southwest France as well pic.twitter.com/WArc1wcgyr
— Met Office (@metoffice) July 31, 2018
The UK's Met Office and severe-weather.eu both forecast temperatures that might break Europe's all-time heat record of 118.4 degrees Fahrenheit, 48 degrees Celsius, by the end of the week.
Meanwhile, across the planet, extreme heat has enhanced wildfire activity in the western part of the United States, even stoking a rare and imposing fire tornado.