|Smoke rises from wildfires near Berezovka River in Russia in this June 23, 2020 color infrared image supplied by Maxar Technologies. Image taken June 23, 2020. Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies via REUTERS|
Topics: Climate Change, Global Warming, Existentialism
LONDON/GENEVA (Reuters) - Pine trees are bursting into flames. Boggy peatlands are tinderbox dry. And towns in northern Russia are sweltering under conditions more typical of the tropics.
Reports of record-breaking Arctic heat – registered at more than 100 Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) in the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk on June 20 – are still being verified by the World Meteorological Organization. But even without that confirmation, experts at the global weather agency are worried by satellite images showing that much of the Russian Arctic is in the red.
That extreme heat is fanning the unusual extent of wildfires across the remote, boreal forest and tundra that blankets northern Russia. Those blazes have in turn ignited normally waterlogged peatlands.
Scientists fear the blazes are early signs of drier conditions to come, with more frequent wildfires releasing stores of carbon from peatland and forests that will increase the amount of planet-warming greenhouse gases in the air.
“This is what this heat wave is doing: It makes much more fuel available to burn, not just vegetation, but the soil as well,” said Thomas Smith, an environmental geographer at the London School of Economics. “It’s one of many vicious circles that we see in the Arctic that exacerbate climate change.”
Siberian heat wave is a 'warning cry' from the Arctic, climate scientists say, Matthew Green, Emma Farge, Reuters Science