What’s Happening With the Arctic Fires
This past summer, wildfires were everywhere in the Arctic. One of the reasons why these fires were so prevalent this year was due to the temperatures being so high and the winds so fierce. Because of the higher than average temperatures this year, Greenland’s ice and glaciers are quickly melting as well.
The size and intensity of the wildfires located in the Arctic in June was greater than any other time since the European Union’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring System started tracking wildfires in the Arctic, which was 16 years ago.
How Do the Fires Start?
The wildfires in the Arctic are most commonly started by lightning. However, according to the World Meteorological Organization, this year in June exceptionally hot temperatures and dry air resulted in fires starting sooner and being more devastating.
As an example of the scorching heat that was in the northern hemisphere, on July 6, in Anchorage, Alaska the city reached a high temperature of 90 degrees fahrenheit, a record for the highest temperature ever recorded in the state.
As it turned out, it topped New York City’s high temperature by 5 degrees fahrenheit for that day. And it wasn’t just in Alaska, Siberia and Greenland were also experiencing extremely warm temperatures.
According to the Danish Meteorological Institute, Greenland lost nearly 200 billion tons of ice just in the month of July.
Why It’s a Big Deal
A big problem with the abundance of wildfires in the north this summer was not only the melting of huge amounts of snow and ice, but also the carbon dioxide that the flames release into the atmosphere.
According to the World Meteorological Organization, the fires in June of this year released more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than all the fires combined from 2010 to 2018 in June. And with all this carbon dioxide getting released into the atmosphere, that ends up slowly raising the average temperature of the planet.
Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the planet has already been warmed by 1.8 degrees fahrenheit.
And the problem with all this global warming is that it contributes to having warmer summers where ice in Greenland is melting and there are more frequent wildfires in the Arctic and Siberia, which in turn results in more carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, causing the planet’s temperature to rise even more.
And it’s this cycle that keeps getting progressively worse every year, causing more wildfires and warming our planet.