Unprecedented Wildfires in the Arctic Since Early June (WMO)
United Nations – Unprecedented wildfires have occurred in the Arctic since early June, with over 100 intense and long-lived wildfires in the Arctic Circle, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) reported on Friday.
The ongoing Arctic fires have been most severe in Alaska and Siberia, where some have been large enough to cover almost 100 000 football pitches, according to the WMO, adding that unusually hot and dry conditions have contributed to the spread of forest fires.
Temperatures in Alaska hit record highs of up to 90°F (32°C) in Alaska on 4 July, fuelling fires in the state, including along the Yukon River along the Arctic Circle, adds the same source.
The Meteorological Organization notes that the northern part of the world is warming faster than the planet as a whole. That heat is drying out forests and making them more susceptible to burn. Wildfires also release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, contributing to global warming.
In June alone, these fires emitted 50 megatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is equivalent to Sweden’s total annual emissions.
In view of the risks, WMO has initiated a Vegetation Fire and Smoke Pollution Warning and Advisory System to develop, implement and harmonize fire forecasting across the globe, providing a better picture of fires and related impacts and hazards everywhere.