AUG 22, 2021 8:47 AM PDT

Fire Season in the Far North? The Wildfires of Siberia

WRITTEN BY: Timothy James

Fire season hasn’t officially started, but almost 10 million acres of land in Siberia have burned, making it the worst fire in Russia’s recorded history.

News like this is sounding the alarm that climate change is an immediate existential threat. This is having a catastrophic impact on carbon emissions and air quality.  As smoke from the fire reaches the North Pole, the situation is feeling more and more dire.

Record breaking fires are appearing in all corners of the globe. In Greece fires are scorching swaths of the entire country including suburbs of Athens, and in Turkey a similar situation is developing. The same phenomenon is occurring from Africa to British Colombia. In California, whole towns are being swallowed up in flames by the Dixie fire, which is now the largest in the United States and the second largest in the state’s history. The Dixie fire is massive, but at over 500,000 acres of land burned it pales in comparison with the Siberian wildfires.

In Siberia, wildfires have emerged in the Taiga forest and an area of northeastern Russia called Yakuita. By early Summer, air quality had been massively affected by the almost 300 fires burning throughout the region. The smoke from these fires is so intense that it not only has begun to block the sun, but it has also reached the North Pole.

Historically earths forests have acted as a sort of carbon sink. Meaning that all that vegetation consumes massive quantities of carbon dioxide, thus regulating earth’s temperature. Unfortunately, this also means that when a forest burns down it emits huge amounts of carbon dioxide. 10 million acres of burning forest is not what we need to solve this crisis.

Photo credit: FEMA

Sources: San Francisco Chronical, The Guardian, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Smithsonian

About the Author
  • Hi Everyone! I am a paleontologist/archaeologist based in the Los Angeles area! I am passionate about conservation, sustainability, historic preservation, nature, and natural history.
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