Ice-covered Greenland isn’t normally associated with fires. But 2017 has seen a remarkable increase in the occurrence and severity of wildfires, and scientists are freaking out at the pattern of extreme weather events in the Arctic.
Thousands of acres of permafrost are burning in what appears to be Greenland’s biggest fire on record. And climate scientists are freaking out not just because the massive fires are unusual, but because they release large amounts of greenhouse gases and speed up the melt of the ice sheet and the carbon-rich permafrost.
As the massive Greenland ice sheet shrinks–ice melt has sped up more than five-fold since the mid-1990s–more formerly ice-covered land will turn to grass- and shrub-covered peatland, leading to more wildfires, leading to more ice melt. No wonder scientists are freaking out.
“Fires in the High Northern Latitudes release significant CO2, CH4, N20, and black carbon” . “A fire this close to the Greenland Ice Shelf is likely to deposit additional black carbon on the ice, further speeding up the melt.”
It is not only in Australia that climate change is increasing the risk of bushfires and lengthening fire seasons. Extreme fire weather has increased since the 1970s in the east and south of Australia, including Victoria, with the fire season length extending from October to March.
Climate change is driving an increase in dangerous fire weather, which in turn is increasing the frequency and severity of bushfires.
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