Siberia Hit by Unprecedented Heatwave, Forest Fires Shroud an Entire Region in Eastern Russia

A heatwave in one of the world’s coldest regions has sparked forest fires and threatened the Siberian city of Yakutsk with a thick blanket of toxic smoke. Siberia has always had a wildfire season, but the past two years have been especially severe. In Siberia, the unprecedented heatwave and forest fires erupted from it are threatening to expose permafrost, leading to further warming of the region.

The month of June in the Yakutia region was the hottest and driest since 1888. Known as the world’s coldest city, Yakutsk is now enveloped in a gray fog as though draped in a shawl. Wildfires are tearing through forests that have been parched by weeks of heatwaves.

Unprecedented Heatwave Spark Forest Fires in Yakutsk Region of Siberia

Image: Ivan Nikiforov/AP

Local authorities have warned the 320,000 inhabitants to stay indoors to avoid the noxious fumes from the blazes, which are on course to break last year’s record.

Northeastern Siberia is witnessing particularly massive fires this summer, as many regions across the vast expanse of the country are battling big blazes.

Unprecedented Heatwave Spark Forest Fires in Yakutsk Region of Siberia

Image: Yevgeny Sofroneyev/AP

The huge Sakha-Yakutia region of Siberia has had a long spell of awfully hot and dry weather this year, with record temperatures. The main factor behind the massive wildfires burning across the northern Siberian republic of Sakha.

The hot weather caused permafrost to thaw and sparked hundreds of fires across the region, which have ravaged over 1.5 million hectares of land.

Unprecedented Heatwave Spark Forest Fires in Yakutsk Region of Siberia

Image: Russian Emergencies Ministry Handout/EPA

In the forests around Magovas in Gorny Districts, volunteers and firefighters are digging trenches and setting controlled flames to burn undergrowth, which could later become a potential fuel to wildfires.

Pavel Petrov, from the aerial forest protection service, has been working non-stop to coordinate the local efforts to tackle the blazes. With an active fire area of just over 2,000 hectares in Yakutia alone, tackling the wildfires has become quite a task. Many of Russia’s wildfires burn on taiga too remote to access.

Unprecedented Heatwave Spark Forest Fires in Yakutsk Region of Siberia

Image: Maksim Slutsky/AP

Wildfires burning unchecked release huge amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, destroying forests that would otherwise serve as carbon sinks and melt the permafrost which in turn releases greenhouse gases.

Surely, the forest fires in Siberia are a result of rapidly changing climatic conditions, which have increased the global temperature and shifted rainfall patterns as well. The dry conditions are now leading to wildfires across the world, which seem to be consuming all life directly and indirectly.

Via: Huff Post

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