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Arctic wildfires burning further north than previously spotted from space, satellite shows

By Anna Liesowska
27 June 2020

Blazes raging just 50km from the Arctic Ocean in Yakutia.

The northernmost fire of 2020 to date caught by satellites above the Arctic circle. Picture: European Union , Copernicus Sentinel-2 imagery

An inferno has been spotted at Latitude 72.723° N, Longitude 118.12° E by the European Union’s Copernicus Sentinel-2  satellite, in the Anabar district, southwest of the Olenyok River estuary into the Laptev Sea.

The fire is believed to be ‘the most northernmost in recent years within the Arctic Circle’, according to the EU’s Earth Observation Programme. 

‘While fires are common at this time of year, record temperatures and strong winds are making the situation particularly worrying,’ said a statement.

The fire is 12 km further north of an inferno registered last year by the same programme which uses infrared sensing capabilities to detect active fires.

The Aviation Forest Protection Agency in Yakutia, also known as the Sakha Republic, the largest region in the Russian Federation, reported 127 natural fires covering 822,724 hectares.

Pictures and video here shows fires burning in the far north around Chersky in the north of Yakutia. 

Arctic on fire


Arctic on fire


Arctic on fire




Pictures and video here shows fires burning in the far north around Chersky in the north of Yakutia. Pictures: Nikita Zimov, video credit Ulus media


A major effort is underway to protect remote settlements with main concern in Abyisky, Verkhnekolymsky, Verkhoyansk, Zhigansky, Mirninsky, Srednekolymsky, Tomponsky and Eveno-Bytantaysky districts.

The fires are burning both north and south of the Arctic Circle. 

Pleistocene Park - a project to recreate the flora of the woolly mammoth age - was under threat with fires 20km away. 

Director Nikita Zimov said: “It’s a good thing the weather changed and the fire (here has) pretty much stopped by now." 

Recent reports include soaring temperatures in one of two poles of cold in Siberia, Verkhoyansk, within the past week. 

Thermometers hit 38C(100.4 degrees Fahrenheit).

‘The Arctic is figuratively and literally on fire — it’s warming much faster than we thought it would in response to rising levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and this warming is leading to a rapid meltdown and increase in wildfires,’ said University of Michigan environmental school dean Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist, reported AP.

‘The record warming in Siberia is a warning sign of major proportions.’

Arctic on fire

Arctic heatwave in Siberia, picture from 19 June 2020. Picture: European Union , Copernicus Sentinel-2 imagery

Such prolonged Siberian warmth’s not been seen for thousands of years ‘and it is another sign that the Arctic amplifies global warming even more than we thought’, he said. 

Pictures highlighted this week by The Siberian Times showed the impact of thawing permafrost on a building in regional capital city Yakutsk.

Cracks suddenly appeared as the frozen foundations caved in. 

A major 21,000 ton diesel leak occurred near Norilsk, in Krasnoyarsk region, due to permafrost thawing. 

Another oil leak came in Yakutia region. 

Arctic on fire


Arctic on fire

2100 tonnes of diesel leaked on 29 May 2020 into a system of rivers ourside Norilsk that lead to the Arctic Ocean. Pictures: Vasily Ryabinin

Russian Academy of Sciences’ President Alexander Sergeyev said: ‘We should organise a total monitoring of both industrial and housing buildings on the permafrost.

‘If the permafrost degrades, all those building will begin to slide. 

‘This task is of the highest importance.

‘I hail the idea, which has been supported by President Vladimir Putin, to have a new programme to monitor the climate and consequences from the climate changes.’

Arctic on fire
Cracks 10cm wide appeared inside three flats and on the outer walls of the residential block at 8/4 Avtodorozhnaya Street in the outskirts of Yakutsk. Picture: News Ykt


Abnormal heat is predicted in Yakutia and Krasnoyarsk regions until the end of June. 

The scientific director of the Hydrometeorological Centre of Russia, Roman Vilfand, said temperatures range 12 to 14 degrees above normal. 

This is due to a stationary anticyclone, the meteorologist noted.

Comments (1)

The fires are usually visible on nasa's worldview and updated periodically througout the day. The rgb aqua and terra MODIS have decent resolution.
Last year in August it looked similar to now in the same general areas, so it seems to be a very early start this year.
clake, North America
29/06/2020 05:32
1
0
1

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