Striking satellite images show huge ‘unprecedented’ wildfires

July 21 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 7/21/2019 11:48:28 AM IST

 Stretches of Arctic, Siberia, and Greenland are going up in flames after a rash of wildfires fuelled by unusually hot temperatures.

The blazes have been documented by imaging expert, Pierre Markuse, who transforms grainy raw satellite images into high-fidelity snapshots. 

The shots reveal breadth of fires which are blanketing expanses of wilderness under shrouds of smoke. According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the scope of Arctic wildfires are 'unprecedented,' with the agency logging more than 100 intense fires throughout the Arctic Circle. 

Climatologists warn the biggest risk of the fires is to the snow and ice: as fires rage, permafrost melt can accelerate causing glaciers to fall into the ocean.

In addition to contributing to sea level rise, experts warn that methane gas trapped in the ice will also be released by the ice melt, further compounding the problem.

'Although wildfires are common in the northern hemisphere between May and October, the latitude and intensity of these fires, as well as the length of time that they have been burning for, has been particularly unusual,' said the WMO in a statement. 

Fires have been raging the hardest in the Arctic and Siberia says the WMO, and are now big enough to constitute 100,000 football pitches or roughly the size of Lanzarote, an island in the Atlantic Ocean.

This month, temperatures hit record highs for Alaska, soaring to 90 degrees Fahrenheit on July 4 fueling fires along the Yukon River and the Arctic Circle. 

'Alaska has just come to the end of a period of warmth that re-wrote the record books for multiple cities and communities across the state. And crazy enough, it was one of several jaw dropping climate events taking place across our largest state,' wrote the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in a recent blog post. 

In Greenland, fires were observed up last week, marking the second time in three years that wildfires have been witnessed there. As reported by Gizmodo, there is very little historic precedent for fires emanating from the typically icy territory.

Risks of additional fires in Greenland remain high to very high throughout the next week.

In addition to blanketing the region in smoke and razing acres upon acres of trees, wildfires also pour significant carbon into the Earth's atmosphere. 

(Daily Mail)

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