Siberian wildfires: What is fueling wildfires in Russia’s coldest city?

More than 6.5 million acres of land in Russia’s coldest city Yakutsk has been charred and the smoke of the wildfires is traveling to Alaska due to strong wind currents. What is fueling these wildfires?

Created On: Jul 23, 2021 20:12 ISTModified On: Jul 23, 2021 20:12 IST

Russia’s coldest city Yakutsk, most of Europe, and several parts of the US are engulfed by uncontrollable wildfires causing heatwaves in the countries. Climate change and poor land management are the possible causes stated by experts.

More than 6.5 million acres of land in Yakutia has been charred and the smoke of the wildfires is traveling to Alaska due to strong wind currents.  Russia is experiencing a condition that scientists have been warning about for years.

What is fueling wildfires in Russia’s coldest city?

•Experts state that climate change is fueling the massive wildfires in the Siberian republic of Sakha, also known as Yakutia.

•The regional officials highlighted that the average temperatures in June 2021 in the region crossed 20 degrees Celsius which is 5 degrees Celsius more than the average temperature in the region.

•Rising temperature coupled with record drought and precipitation levels 16 times lower than normal has fueled the wildfires in Yakutia.

Other wildfires across world

•The Bootleg wildfire in Oregon, US has burned nearly 475,000 acres of land and the dense smoke is traveling around 3,000 miles across the other end of the continent. Extreme dry, heat conditions and strong winds are fueling the wildfires in the Western US all the way to the East Coast including New York City.

•British Columbia has declared a state of emergency due to wildfires. Thomas Smith, an Assistant Professor in Environmental Geography, London School of Economics said, “The fire season is getting longer, the fires are getting larger, they are burning more intensely than ever before.”

What is a wildfire?

•A wildfire is defined as an uncontrollable fire that engulfs forests, grasslands, peatlands, etc.

• Wildfires can be caused by natural factors such as global warming, dry humid climate, dried-out vegetation, lightning, volcanic eruption, and also human activities.

What is wildfire season?

•Historically, the wildfire season occurs between May and October when the conditions become extremely hot, dry, and humid. Mostly wildfires have been prevalent during summers but climate change, heatwaves, droughts have increased the occurrence and duration of wildfires dramatically.

Climate change is increasing risk of wildfires

•As per the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate change increases the possibilities of storms, droughts, and other weather anomalies. Weather events that were once happening every 100 years are now occurring every 10 years. This is leading to an increased frequency of fires.

•As the temperature of the planet increases, the rate of evaporation increases thus drawing out more moisture from plants and causing drying out of vegetation. Such conditions coupled with droughts, dry, hot, and humid weather conditions can increase the risk of severe and longer wildfires.

•Studies by experts have shown that climate change is increasing the risk of wildfires at an alarming rate globally.

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