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Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

An area of 3.2 million hectares (7.9 million acres) was engulfed by forest fires in remote regions of Russia on Monday. In comparison, the total surface of the nation of Belgium is 3.07 million hectares.

With fires raging for days, immense clouds of smoke reached large population centers, including Russia's third biggest city, Novosibirsk. Authorities declared emergencies in several regions.

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Scientists involved in the World Meteorological Organization's report urged world leaders not to lose focus on the climate emergency. Cindy Mariela Lorenzo / World Meteorological Association

The United Nations released a sobering report Tuesday showing that the climate crisis is accelerating global hunger and wreaking havoc on land, sea and in the atmosphere, according to the UN's State of the Climate report.

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Islandic Horses walk around grazing and trampling over snow. A new study found that herds of horses, bison and reindeer could be used to fight off the melting of the permafrost in the Arctic. Susanne Stöckli / Pixabay

Arctic winters are meant to be frigid, but because of rising temperatures and climate change, they aren't cold enough. The permafrost, the thick subsurface layer of frozen soil that stores one of the world's largest natural reserves of carbon, is thawing. As it does, it releases potent greenhouse gases that accelerate climate change. European scientists have now found that resettling massive herds of large herbivores could combat this effect and save up to 80 percent of all permafrost soils around the globe until 2100.

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The Kapitan Khlebnikov ice breaker in the Chukchi Sea in the Wrangel Island State Nature Reserve, Chukotka, Russia on July 13, 2019. Shrinking levels of ice are expected to foster increased access to navigation in the Arctic Ocean. Yuri Smityuk / TASS via Getty Images

By Michaela Cavanagh (with AFP)

The Russian government has unveiled a plan to adapt the country's economy and population to climate change.

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A wild Woodland Bison walks in the Arctic wilderness. RyersonClark / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Paul Brown

Releasing herds of large animals onto the tundra − rewilding the Arctic − to create vast grasslands could slow down global heating by storing carbon and preserving the permafrost, UK scientists say.

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The current rate of CO2 emissions is a major event in the recorded history of Earth. EPA

By Andrew Glikson

At several points in the history of our planet, increasing amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have caused extreme global warming, prompting the majority of species on Earth to die out.

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An aerial view of a neighborhood destroyed by the Camp Fire on Nov. 15, 2018 in Paradise, Calif. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Respecting scientists has never been a priority for the Trump Administration. Now, a new investigation from The Guardian revealed that Department of the Interior political appointees sought to play up carbon emissions from California's wildfires while hiding emissions from fossil fuels as a way to encourage more logging in the national forests controlled by the Interior department.

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A helicopter passes smoke from a wildfire on July 3, 2019 south of Talkeetna, Alaska. Alaska experienced its record-high temperatures in 2019. Lance King / Getty Images

Last year's brutal heat waves that swept through Europe, caused wildfires in Alaska and Siberia, and have left Australia as a tinderbox registered as the second hottest year ever — 0.1 degrees Fahrenheit or 0.04 degrees Celsius cooler than 2016, according to scientists at the Copernicus Climate Change Service, an intergovernmental agency supported by the European Union, as The New York Times reported.

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Bubbles of methane gas frozen into clear ice in Baikal Lake in Siberia. Streluk / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Russian scientists on an Arctic expedition have discovered, for the first time, methane "boiling" on the surface of the water that is visible to the naked eye. Forget high-tech detection devices, the methane is so pronounced that it can be scooped from the water in buckets, as Newsweek reported.

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Global map of declination and the dip pole locations for 2020. NOAA NCEI / CIRES

Earth's magnetic north pole, which serves as an anchor point for our navigation has been actively moving east from the Canadian Arctic towards Russia, as CNN reported.

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Satellite images show wildfires burning through the Central Siberian Plateau. Copernicus / Sentinel Hub / Pierre Markuse

So many wildfires are burning in the Arctic, they're visible from space, new images from NASA's Earth Observatory show. The satellite images reveal huge plumes of smoke wafting across uninhabited lands in Siberia, Greenland and Alaska, as CNN reported.

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Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life
Lightning strikes within 300 miles of the North Pole on Aug. 10. NWS Fairbanks

Forty-eight lightning strikes were detected within 300 miles of the North Pole on Saturday, The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang reported Wednesday. The event was so unusual that the National Weather Service (NWS) published a statement.

"This is one of the furthest north lightning strikes in Alaska forecaster memory," NWS Fairbanks, Alaska said.

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Tribal elder Warren Jones stands on the edge of climate change erosion caused by melting permafrost tundra and the disappearance of sea ice which formed a protective barrier, as it threatens houses from the Yupik Eskimo village of Quinhagak on the Yukon Delta in Alaska on April 12, 2019. MARK RALSTON / AFP / Getty Images
Lake Baikal. W0zny / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

By Marlene Cimons

Lake Baikal is the world's oldest and deepest lake. It's at least 20 million years old, and roughly a mile deep at its lowest point. The Siberian lake contains holds more water than all the North American Great Lakes combined, what amounts to more than one-fifth of all the water found in lakes, swamps and rivers. It was formed by the shifting of tectonic plates, which created a valley that filled with water. That shift continues today at a rate of around 1 to 2 centimeters year, meaning the world's biggest lake is only getting bigger.

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Westend61 / Getty Images

Update: The window for photo submissions has ended. The winner will be announced this Wednesday, November 21.

EcoWatch is pleased to announce its first photo contest! Show us what in nature you are most thankful for this Thanksgiving. Whether you have a love for oceans, animals, or parks, we want to see your best photos that capture what you love about this planet.

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Frozen methane bubbles in a thermokarst lake in Alaska. Miriam Jones / USGS

Scientists may need to more than double their assessment of how much carbon dioxide and methane thawing Arctic permafrost will release into the atmosphere this century, according to a study published this month.

The paper, published in Nature Communications Aug. 15, said that previous estimates for how greenhouse gasses released by thawing permafrost would contribute to global climate change focused on the slow thawing of permafrost near the surface.

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By Adam C. Stein, Vyacheslav Kastrikin and Aleksey Antonov

Various independent sightings confirm that several of "Putin's tigers"—after nearly a year of hiding in the shadows—are alive and well in Amur Oblast Province of the Russian Far East. The first report came near the eve of the New Year from the Khingano-Arkaharinsky Federal Refuge, where Alexander Bochkarev—the former director of Khingansky Nature Reserve—discovered the fresh trail of an adult male tiger.

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The research icebreaker Polarstern in the central Arctic Ocean. Alfred-Wegener-Institute / Ruediger Stein

Scientists found record levels of microplastics in Arctic sea ice, a study published Tuesday in Nature Communications revealed.

Researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) sampled ice from five Arctic Ocean regions and found up to 12,000 microplastic particles per liter (approximately 1.06 liquid quarts) of ice, an AWI press release reported.

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A pair of researchers discovered 15 methane-filled bubbles in Siberia's Bely Island last July that wobbled like a waterbed when stepped on.

Well, we really hate to burst these bubbles, but further research into the wider Yamal and Gydan peninsulas has uncovered about 7,000 more of these mysterious mounds.

Scientists believe that these bumps are caused by thawing permafrost releasing methane.

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Methane released from frozen permafrost trapped as bubbles within ice. NASA

Japan and China have successfully extracted methane hydrate—ice crystals with natural methane gas locked inside—from the ocean floor near their coastlines.

Commercial development of this frozen fossil fuel is considered by many countries as a key to energy security. However, releasing this massive methane monster is a potential environmental disaster.

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