The XI International Forum

Arctic: today and the future

December 2-4, 2021, St.Petersburg



Reasons for increase of forest fires in the Arctic


Reasons for increase of forest fires in the Arctic

The growing area of forest fires in the Arctic zone is related to climate change and forest management problems. This opinion was expressed to TASS by Nikita Tananaev, a leading researcher of the Institute of Permafrost Geology of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the North-Eastern Federal University.

The situation with forest fires in Yakutia is very complicated now, as forest fires sometimes  turn into high fires. Earlier, dense smoke was observed in Yakutsk and other settlements. According to the EMERCOM of Russia, 316 natural fires are still burning in the region, their area has increased by 38 thousand hectares a day.

Deterioration of climatic conditions is imposed on organizational difficulties in the system of forest management and firefighting. "Large area is remote from large settlements, and it is impossible to fly to all fires at the same time. Most of the territory of Yakutia is a control zone, where, according to the rules approved by the Ministry of Natural Resources of Russia, fires can not be extinguished as long as they do not pose a danger to settlements and economic objects," the expert explained.

"Fire danger in forests is determined by weather conditions such as current air temperature and humidity, history of rainfall, and soil dryness. Climatic changes occurring in the region manifest themselves in an increase in air temperature - by 0.15...0.30° C over a decade. As research by scientists in Alaska shows, forest fires have threshold behavior: exceeding the temperature limit by just a few tenths of a degree causes a disproportionate increase in flammability by tens and hundreds of times," Mr Tananaev said.

"Yakutia is experiencing another temperature anomaly this year. April, May and June have seen temperatures above the average for the baseline period of the past thirty years of two to six degrees," he said.

"Another problem is that fires are a source of carbon dioxide. In particular, Arctic-wide carbon dioxide emissions from wildfires last year were twice as high as in previous years, up to 395 megatons. Total emissions in the Far East amounted to 540 megatons, which exceeded the previous maximum of 2003," the scientist stressed.

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