Scientists have found that global warming leads to megafires in the Siberian Arctic

(ORDO NEWS) — A team of scientists from several countries has shown that a global increase in temperature is leading to an exponential increase in the number of fires in the Siberian Arctic.

Scientists from the Spanish Council for Scientific Research, Wageningen University (Netherlands), Kyoto University and the Center for International Forestry Research in Indonesia analyzed satellite images taken from 1982 to 2020.

In 2020 alone, 423 fires were recorded in the Siberian Arctic, seven times more than the average since 1982.

The fires affected 3 million hectares and released 256 million tons of carbon dioxide from the permafrost.

Scientists have detected fires above the 72nd parallel north latitude, more than 600 km north of the Arctic Circle. Winter ice still lay here during the fires. Many fires broke out within a few days.

However, over the past 40 years, each risk factor (drier weather conditions, longer summers and more vegetation) has steadily increased.

The temperature in the summer of 2020, when huge fires broke out in the region, was only 11.35 degrees Celsius.

After 2050, such temperatures in the Arctic, which is warming faster than the rest of the planet, will occur more often, leading to a repeat of fires.

The authors suggest that an increase in the number of thunderstorms and lightning was the main cause of the fires.

In addition, warmer temperatures cause earlier thawing of peatlands and more vegetation. Further research will be needed to demonstrate how human activity can affect the fire season in the Siberian Arctic.


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