Smoke from massive wildfires in Russia’s Siberia region has reached the geographic North Pole “for the first time in recorded history,” according to NASA.
The forest blazes themselves are bigger than all the other wildfires currently burning in the world combined.
The U.S space agency published a photograph on August 7th from one of its satellites that shows the acrid blanket of smoke stretching more than 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers), from the Yakutia region in the northeast of Siberia up to the North Pole.
According to their records, this may be the first time this has ever happened.
The Chinese news agency, Xinhua, reported that Siberian smoke clouded the skies of parts of Mongolia, including Ulan Bator, the capital city, on August 4—a distance of more than 2,000 km. On August 6, a broad band of smoke from the wildfires, which appeared to be entrained with the clouds, could be seen over Nunavut, Canada and western Greenland.
In 2020, the wildfires in Siberia were described by the Russian authorities as “very severe” and estimated to have caused the equivalent of 410 million metric tons of carbon dioxide to be released throughout the whole season.
This year the wildfires have released an equivalent of more than 460 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, and the wildfire season isn’t over yet.
On August 2, the Siberian Times reported on the intense, blinding, smoke experienced by residents of Yakutia as wildfires scorched the land.
Their report read, “the Republic of Sakha, Russia’s largest territory, used to be known as the Kingdom of Permafrost, (now) is turning into the Capital of Wildfires”.
At that time, they estimated that two million hectares of the Republic had been engulfed in flames this year.
The wildfires have grown in size since then and have engulfed an estimated 62,300 square miles (161,300 square km) since the start of the year.
Russia’s weather-monitoring institute Rosgidromet reported on August 9th that the situation in the region “continues to deteriorate,” with around 34,000 square km of forest currently burning.
The fires in Siberia are bigger than this season’s wildfires in Greece, Turkey, Italy, the United States and Canada combined, Alexei Yaroshenko, a forestry expert with Greenpeace Russia, told The Washington Post.
He linked the worsening wildfires with the effects of climate change, as well as the “continuing decline of state forest management.”
“For years, officials and opinion leaders have been saying that fires are normal, that the taiga is always burning, and there is no need to make an issue out of this. People are used to it,” Yaroshenko said.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- “Why Is There No Help?”, Wildfires Rage In Russia While The World Looks The Other Way
- Bus Explosion Leaves 1 Dead, 19 Injured In Russia’s Voronezh