Wildfires in the Arctic, July 2019.
22 Jul 2019

Wildfires are spreading in the Arctic

A recent combination of record-breaking heat and intense wildfires have turned areas of Greenland, Siberia, and Alaska into smoke-covered infernos. Scientists have been keeping a close eye on how things are developing, as Earther report.

The size and number of wildfires is a serious issue on its own, but their potential environmental impact is also serious.. The flames are putting  out high volumes pollutants, and high winds can carry debris aloft for considerable distances, affecting air quality on a global scale.

The Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS) has determined that the Arctic wildfires have already produced north of 50 megatons of carbon dioxide. That number, CAMS says, is the equivalent of a full year’s worth of emissions from the entire country of Sweden. 

CAMS says it’s detected nearly 400 wildfires so far this year in Alaska alone, and the trend shows little sign of slowing. Wildfires happen with regularity all over the world, including the Arctic, but this summer there has been unusually many.

“It is unusual to see fires of this scale and duration at such high latitudes in June,” Mark Parrington, CAMS Senior Scientist, said in a statement. “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.”