The extreme heat in the Siberian Arctic from January to June would have been "almost impossible" without the influence of human-caused climate change, according to a new analysis by a team of leading climate scientists.
June 20 hit 100 degrees (38 degrees Celsius) for an Arctic record.
The analysis, published Wednesday, showed that prolonged heat such as Siberia experienced this year would happen less than once in every 80,000 years without human-induced climate change – "making it almost impossible in a climate that had not been warmed by greenhouse gas emissions," the study said.
Climate change increased the chances of the prolonged heat by a factor of at least 600. This is among the strongest results of any study, according to the analysis.
“The findings of this rapid research – that climate change increased the chances of the prolonged heat in Siberia by at least 600 times – are truly staggering," study lead author Andrew Ciavarella, a scientist at the UK Met Office, said in a statement.
"This research is further evidence of the extreme temperatures we can expect to see more frequently around the world in a warming global climate," he said. "Importantly, an increasing frequency of these extreme heat events can be moderated by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”
To reach their conclusions, scientists used 70 climate models running thousands of complex simulations comparing current conditions with a world without man-made warming from the burning of coal, oil and gas.
“This study shows again just how much of a game changer climate change is with respect to heat waves," said study co-author Friederike Otto, acting director of Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute. "Given that heat waves are by far the deadliest extreme weather events in most parts of the world, they must be taken very seriously."
Researchers said the heat worsened widespread wildfires, pest outbreaks and the thawing of permafrost, which led to a massive pipeline oil spill. Thawing permafrost has the potential to release huge amounts of greenhouse gases trapped under the frozen ground, which could worsen the warming, scientists said.
Scientists said that without rapid cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, extreme heat waves could become frequent by the end of the century.
“The climate of the future is very different, as this paper shows,” said Pennsylvania State University meteorology professor David Titley, who wasn’t part of the research. “We can either adapt or suffer.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Siberian heat wave 'almost impossible' without climate change