Heatwave in Siberia Increases Wildfires

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Manage episode 269130915 series 2530089
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A prolonged heatwave in Siberia, Russia, caused the number of wildfires in the region to increase almost 500% since late June. The worst-hit area is the town of Verkhoyansk, where a temperature of 38°C was recorded in June. This temperature is 18°C warmer than the area’s maximum daily average for the month and likely to be the hottest recorded in the Arctic. The Russian agency for aerial forest fire management reported that since early July, over 240 forest fires have covered more than 140,000 hectares of land, and seven regions have been under a state of emergency. The melting of the Arctic permafrost, or a thick subsurface layer of soil that remains below freezing point all year, has accelerated because of the heatwave and wildfires. The thawing process causes grasslands to flood, roads to twist, buildings to destabilize, and riverbanks to erode. By 2050, scientists estimate that damage to buildings and infrastructure resulting from the thawing permafrost will amount to over $100 billion. The thawing permafrost also has global implications, as the decomposition of long-frozen organic material may cause greenhouse gases to be released. The process may result in up to 240 billion extra tons of carbon in the atmosphere by 2100, causing climate change to further accelerate. Official data revealed that as of the end of June, approximately 7,900 square miles of Siberian land have burned this year. This figure is much higher than the total 6,800 square miles recorded for all of 2019. Climate scientist Jonathan Overpeck believes the record-breaking temperatures and resulting wildfires in Siberia are obvious warning signs of the major effects of climate change.

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