March 2, 2024

Climate expert: Russia's forest fires are "extremely worrying" |  Science

Climate expert: Russia’s forest fires are “extremely worrying” | Science

JAKOTSK/POTSdam – According to climate expert Kirsten Thunik, the extent of devastating forest fires in eastern Russia is “extremely alarming.” “For the third year in a row, we are seeing severe fires there.”

Thonicke is a forest fire expert at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). Accordingly, forest areas burn on a scale that occurs only every 10 to 15 years.

Millions of hectares of forest have already been burned in the Republic of Yakutia. The smoke moved thousands of kilometers to the inner west. According to NASA, the smoke has now reached the North Pole.

“It happens every now and then. Right now, the current is transporting smoke to the North Pole,” Thunick explained. Then particles of soot and dust settled in the Arctic on the ice. The particles will have an effect on the reflection of sunlight: “This can increase melting for a brief period because dark particles absorb sunlight.”

Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and methane are especially harmful

Worldwide, forests and wildfires have already released about 5.5 billion tons of harmful greenhouse gases this year. “This is more than in the same period in previous years,” said a forest fire expert at the German news agency dpa in Moscow. The amount fluctuates annually between 5.6 billion and 7.7 billion tons of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane. “Global figures are comparable to the emissions released worldwide each year through the use of natural gas.”

Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane are particularly harmful to the climate, Thunicke said. “Through the greenhouse effect, they have a long-term effect on global warming and changes in climate.” Fires in Siberia and the Arctic released nearly 250 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere last year alone. This is one third of Germany’s total carbon dioxide emissions.

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However, there are fluctuations in global emissions, the researcher said. “We have a long-term trend that globally burning areas are decreasing and emissions are decreasing to a certain extent – but in the past three years we have seen that areas where fires traditionally occur are seeing new extremes.” This also includes Siberia.