Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

The Arctic Is Burning: Wildfires Rage from Sweden to Alaska

Climate
The Arctic Is Burning: Wildfires Rage from Sweden to Alaska
Firefighters battle a blaze in a forest in western Sweden, the worst-hit country. Mats Andersson / Getty Images

There are currently 11 wildfires blazing in the Arctic circle, The Guardian reported Wednesday.


While fires are also raging in Russia, Norway and Finland, Sweden has seen the most extensive Arctic fires, which have forced four communities to evacuate, according to The Guardian.

Two Italian water-bombing planes that answered Sweden's call for help will begin operating Wednesday, but Sweden's Civil Contingencies Agency has requested even more planes and helicopters from the EU, The Local Sweden reported.

"This is definitely the worst year in recent times for forest fires. Whilst we get them every year, 2018 is shaping up to be excessive," university researcher and Uppsula resident Mike Peacock told The Guardian.

This year's fires in Sweden cover a much larger area than fires in past years, The Guardian reported.

The fires come as a consequence of a heat wave that is bringing unusually hot, dry weather to much of Europe, conflagrations far outside of Europe's Mediterranean firezone, EU officials said, according to The Guardian.

The European Forest Fire Information System has warned that fire conditions will persist in central and northern Europe over the next few weeks.

Scientists say the increase in northern fires is another sign of climate change.

"What we're seeing with this global heatwave is that these areas of fire susceptibility are now broadening, with the moors in north-west England and now these Swedish fires a consequence of that," professor of global change ecology at the Open University Vincent Gauci told The Guardian.

"Both these areas are typically mild and wet which allows forests and peatlands to develop quite large carbon stores," he said. "When such carbon-dense ecosystems experience aridity and heat and there is a source of ignition—lightning or people—fires will happen."

The European Arctic isn't the only part of the far north seeing increased fire activity.

Two fires that started Tuesday brought the total number of fires in Alaska's Galena Zone up to 35, The Brookville Times reported. The fires have burned 44,000 acres to date.

The Alaskan fires and some of the Swedish fires were ignited by lightning strikes, which is in keeping with research published in 2017, which found that warmer temperatures were increasing thunderstorms over boreal forests and Arctic tundra, leading to more fires, Scientific American reported.

This year's fires come a year after Europe had its worst fire season in recorded history, though 2017's most devastating fires were in the more typical countries of Italy, Portugal and Spain, where they burned thousands of hectares of agricultural land and forests into November.

The 2020 presidential election poses a critical test of climate conservatives' willingness to put their environmental concerns before party politics. filo / Getty Images

By Ilana Cohen

Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.

But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Headquarters of the World Health Organization in Geneva amid the COVID-19 outbreak on Aug. 17, 2020. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that 64 high-income nations have joined an effort to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine fairly, prioritizing the most vulnerable citizens, as Science reported. The program is called the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or Covax, and it is a joint effort led by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Exterior of Cold Tube demonstration pavilion. Lea Ruefenacht

By Gloria Oladipo

In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air conditioned cooling centers. Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus.

Read More Show Less
A Botswana elephant stands in a body of water. Geschenkpanda / Pixabay

Toxins in water produced by cyanobacteria was likely responsible for more than 300 elephant deaths in Botswana this year, the country's wildlife department announced on Monday.

Read More Show Less
Activists gather in John Marshall Park for the Global Climate Strike protests on September 20, 2019 in Washington, DC. Samuel Corum / Getty Images

By Alexandra Villarreal

As West coast wildfires color the skies dystopian red and orange and an aggressive hurricane season batters the U.S. Gulf coast, college students are demanding their schools take bold action to address the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch