The fires were touched off by thunderstorms that produced no rain. The Siberian Times reports that over 1000 people had to be evacuated from their homes due to fire in the Sakha Republic, also known as Yakutia, with its landmass as permafrost and 40% of that area within the arctic circle. States of emergency are also in effect in the Russian Federation regions of Kransnoyarsk and Irkutsk.
Vyacheslav Popov, head of the republic's Forestry Department, said: 'The area of wildfires doubled. There are 37 active wildfires in the republic right now covering the territory of 76,000 hectares. There is a threat to eight settlements in five areas of Yakutia''In the Northwest Territories of Canada, dry and warm weather has fueled over 186 fires of which 156 are still burning according to this report from Climate Central.
'The biggest number if wildfires are here in Vilyui district', said the the local administration head, Sergey Vinokurov.
'They all started at the same time because of so-called 'dry thunderstorms' which we had last week.
'We had to send helicopters to evacuate people out of the most dangerous areas and bring them to Vilyuisk'.
The town is an administrative capital some 600 kilometres northwest of capital Yakutsk.
As Siberia frazzles in the summer heat, states of emergency were introduced in areas of Krasnoyarsk and Irkutsk regions, the Republic of Buryatia, and three districts of Trans-Baikal region, plus one of the Tyva Republic.
'For the duration of the emergency situation, entering forests is strictly forbidden for the population', and punishable by fines of up to 100,000 rubles ($2,800)', locals were warned in Buryatia.
Boreal forests like those in the Northwest Territories are burning at rates "unprecedented" in the past 10,000 years according to the authors of a study put out last year. The northern reaches of the globe are warming at twice the rate as areas closer to the equator, and those hotter conditions are contributing to more widespread burns.The regions just below the Arctic are not alone in the increase and severity of wildfires as the recent wildfire news coming out of the Western states reflects. But the burn rate in the Boreal forests is unprecedented.
Winner of National Geographic photo of the year, 2013.
Grand Prize and Nature Winner
Paul Souders, Seattle, Washington
The Ice Bear
A polar bear peers up from beneath the melting sea ice on Hudson Bay as the setting midnight sun glows red from the smoke of distant fires during a record-breaking spell of hot weather. The Manitoba population of polar bears, the southernmost in the world, is particularly threatened by a warming climate and reduced sea ice.
In this riveting must read piece titled More Wildfires = More Warming = More Wildfires, Chris Mooney describes the wildfire-permafrost feedback loop.
You have this climate and fire interaction, and all of a sudden permafrost can thaw really rapidly," explains Jon O'Donnell, an ecologist with the National Parks Service's Arctic Network. Scientists call it a "positive feedback," and it's one of the scariest aspects of global warming because, in essence, it means a bad situation is making itself worse.
When it comes to understanding the wildfire-permafrost feedback and just how bad it could be, one factor is clear: Wildfires are definitely getting worse. "The area burned by wildfires has been increased quite a bit over the last couple of decades," says Terry Chapin, a biologist at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. Indeed, a new study just out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that recent fire activity in these "boreal" regions of the globe is higher than anything seen in the last 10,000 years.
Fires are also becoming more severe, says O'Donnell. Finally, the seasonality of fires appears to be changing, with burns extending later into the summer, when permafrost has thawed more completely—once again, amplifying the overall impact of burning on frozen soils and the carbon they contain.
And here's where the feedback kicks in: Large northern fires don't just burn huge swaths of forest. They can also burn off the upper layer of lichen and mosses on the forest floor. When intact, this forest surface layer insulates the underlying permafrost and protects it from thawing—but getting rid of it takes away that protection, even as it also exposes the area to the heating of direct sunlight.
Plus, there's an added effect: After a fire burns through a region, O'Donnell notes, it leaves behind an area of the earth's surface that is blackened in color. And these dark areas absorb more heat from the sun, thus further upping temperatures and thawing permafrost. As the soil thaws, meanwhile, microbes have a much easier time decomposing its organic matter. "The microbes can start to crank on that carbon," says O'Donnell, adding that the process results in the release of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.
The Permafrost Tunnel was excavated from 1963–1969 for the study of permafrost, geology, ice science, and the mining and construction techniques specific to permafrost environments. <>
The Permafrost Tunnel offers a unique research platform for scientists and engineers who wish to study a frozen environment over 40,000 years old.