NASA’s Aqua satellite detected Arctic fires criss-crossing the landscape and huge clouds of smoke obscuring large portions of the Siberia, that will “catch a ride on the jet stream to other areas of the globe,” according to scientists.
Siberian fires are used to be seasonal. However, NASA scientists are reporting that, “peat fires are notorious for their potential to over-winter smoldering underground only to reappear in early spring. The term for reappearing fires that are renewed in spring is ‘zombie fires’.“
These fires tend to be strangely both large and smoky. Large because of the massive extent of touched zone, and smoky because much of the fuel for Siberian fires is taiga, peat bogs, and tundra all of which tend to smoke more than other types of fuels such as trees and grasses.
Actually, Siberian forests hold higher concentrations of carbon which when burned are released into the atmosphere. Higher carbon emissions cause temperatures to rise, and this year Siberia saw a new temperature record of 38°C.
The fire spread has tripled in roughly a week. An estimated 3.4 million acres are for now burning according to Russia’s forest fire agency, but just 1.1m acres were on fire at the end of June.
According to NASA, this year, the fires are reacting to historic heat-waves across the region and with this continuous rise of fires will continue to break out more quickly and spread faster.
The region is experiencing stronger winds which is helping the fires progress across the country. The Russia agency for aerial forest fire management, Aviales, is reporting that 3.4 million acres are burning in inaccessible areas.
Mark Parrington, Senior Scientist and wildfire expert at the EU’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), said: “What is remarkable with these fires in Siberia is the striking similarity with what we saw over the same period of last year in terms of both the area affected and the scale of the fires. Last year was already by far an unusual, and record, summer for fires in the Arctic Circle in our Global Fire Assimilation System dataset, which goes back to 2003.”