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Vast swathes of the Arctic are suffering from "unprecedented" wildfires, new satellite images have revealed. North of the Arctic circle, the high temperatures are facilitating enormous wildfires which are wreaking ecological destruction on a colossal scale. Satellite images reveal fires across Greenland , Siberia and Alaska , with warm dry conditions following ice melt on the enormous Greenland icesheet commencing a month earlier than average.

The pictures show forest fires and burning peat.

They also reveal the extent of the damage the fires leave behind. In Alaska wildfires have already burned more than 1.

Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecast, said the amount of CO2 emitted by Arctic wildfires between 1 June and 21 July is around megatonnes and is approaching the entire fossil fuel CO2 emissions of Belgium. This is more than was released by Arctic fires in the same month between and combined. In Alberta, Canada, one fire is estimated to have been bigger than , pitches. In Alaska alone, Cams has registered almost wildfires this year, with new ones igniting every day.

That heat is drying out forests and making them more susceptible to burn. You can find our Community Guidelines in full here. Want to discuss real-world problems, be involved in the most engaging discussions and hear from the journalists? Try Independent Premium free for 1 month.

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The Arctic is on fire, and these images from space show the choking smoke - CNET

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The Arctic Is on Fire, and It Might Be Creating a Vicious Climate 'Feedback Loop'

Explainer videos. Recent fires are too frequent, intense and severe. They are reducing older-growth forest in favor of young vegetation, and pouring more carbon into the atmosphere at a time when carbon dioxide concentrations are setting new records. It has been burning regularly for thousands of years. This vast landscape is mostly free of human roads, rail lines, power lines and cities. Blazes often spread until the wind changes and the rain falls. Here in central Alaska, our spindly spruce trees open resinous cones to jump-start new seedlings when the parent tree is scorched.

Fast-growing fireweed and other flowers cover recent burn scars. Soon afterward come wild blueberries, willows and birch and aspen trees that shoot up from still-living stumps and roots. Eventually flammable conifers take over again. Typically, the cycle resumes about every years. The overall increase in burning can be hard to detect and measure because of enormous natural variability.

Things aren't looking good.

The relationship between hot dry weather and fire is clear. Climate change is causing an equally clear trend toward earlier springs and longer, hotter summers. However, our state also has some cooler, wetter summers when little or no smoke chokes the air. Nonetheless, shifts are occurring — driven by the unprecedented warming that we are seeing in Alaska. July now stands as the hottest month ever recorded in the state.

Many of us, including climate researchers, land managers, ecologists, meteorologists, rural and indigenous residents and fire experts, have been collaborating , studying this issue , gathering data , creating simulations and computer models , using satellite imagery and getting outdoors to measure exactly what is happening.

The Arctic Is Experiencing Its Worst Wildfire Season on Record

In Alaska, state and federal agencies work together to monitor and manage fires through the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center and deploy firefighters to the front lines — including a record number of smoke-jumpers this year. The evidence shows that overall, fires in the far North are becoming bigger, hotter and more frequent.

Older conifers are losing ground to younger deciduous trees , altering whole ecosystems. Torched trees are releasing carbon, along with soils rich in dead plant matter that are burning more deeply than in the past. As these releases fuel further warming, climate change is causing more climate change , which affects the entire planet. As lightning triggered blazes statewide in late June, the Shovel Creek Fire sprang up on the western outskirts of town. Displaced sled dog teams were housed at the local fairgrounds.

On some days in June and July the smoke in Fairbanks was so thick that my neighbor, who has asthma, had to wear a respirator mask. Another friend who has heart trouble had to take refuge in a small conference room at the hospital that was offered as a filtered-air safety zone.