Wildfires are ravaging the Arctic, with areas of northern Siberia, northern Scandinavia, Alaska and Greenland engulfed in flames. There are hundreds of fires covering mostly uninhabited regions. But smoke is affecting wider surrounding areas, engulfing some places completely. Cities in eastern Russia have noted a significant decrease in air quality since the fires started.
Mark Parrington, a wildfires expert at the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (Cams), described them as "unprecedented".
"It is unusual to see fires of this scale and duration at such high latitudes in June," said Mr Parrington. "But temperatures in the Arctic have been increasing at a much faster rate than the global average, and warmer conditions encourage fires to grow and persist once they have been ignited."
The fires are releasing copious volumes of previously stored carbon dioxide and methane - carbon stocks that have in some cases been held in the ground for thousands of years. Scientists say what we're seeing is evidence of the kind of feedbacks we should expect in a warmer world, where increased concentrations of greenhouse gases drive more warming, which then begets the conditions that release yet more carbon into the atmosphere. A lot of the particulate matter from these fires will eventually come to settle on ice surfaces further north, darkening them and thus accelerating melting. It's all part of a process of amplification.
Post a Comment