Arctic societies must plan and adapt to increasing frequency of wildfires, says researcher
In July, forest fires multiplied in the Far North. Among the hardest hit places are Siberia in Russia, particularly the Republic of Sakha, parts of Canada, and the west coast of the United States. Emissions contributing to global warming have totaled more than 505 megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents, according to estimates by the EU’s Copernicus atmosphere monitoring service.
Principal researcher Marianne Tronstad Lund at the Center for International Climate Research (CICERO) says rResearch shows that climate change has contributed to more weather conditions on which forest fires depend, thus increasing the likelihood of forest fires.
“Weather conditions are a critical factor in forest fires. The risk of a forest fire breaking out and spreading increases when there are long periods of high temperatures, low precipitation and humidity, and high winds. In many places, even in high northern latitudes, these hot and dry spells occur more often and are more intense than before, which contributes to the increase in the number of forest fires. In addition, the forest fire season has been prolonged in many places, so more fires can occur throughout the year. Rhe research shows that climate change has contributed to increasing the weather conditions on which forest fires depend and thus increasing the likelihood of forest fires. “
Major consequences for nature and society
Lund says that fForest fires are a natural and necessary part of the earth’s ecosystem. But forest fires can also have major consequences for nature and society.
“When they strike inhabited areas, they can kill and destroy property. Lately we have seen examples of entire small towns being burnt down and many people needing to be evacuated. Forest fires also cause significant emissions of CO2 and carbon. pollution, which causes poor air quality and health problems for those living in the regions. “
The size of several hundred thousand football fields
Individual forest fires vary widely in size, but larger ones can burn over tens of thousands of square kilometers, Lund explains.
“For example, the Interagency Forest Fire Center of Canada (CIFFC) reports that wildfires in Canada as a whole have burned over 2.5 million hectares, or 25,000 km2, so far in 2021 . In comparison, a football field is about 0.007 km2, so we are talking about several hundred thousand football fields here. “