Siberian wildfires (at 10 million acres) bigger than all other fires on planet combined

Here’s a link to another, excellent magazine article on the same disaster: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/siberian-wildfires-are-larger-globes-total-blazes-year-combined-180978433/

https://abcnews.go.com/International/siberian-wildfires-now-bigger-fires-world-combined/story?id=79422602

Siberian wildfires now bigger than all other fires in world combined

Huge fires have been fueled by the historic drought.ByPatrick Reevell August 12, 2021, 12:52 PM

00:1605:525:51

Siberian wildfires now bigger than all other fires in world combinedABC News’ Patrick Reevell reports from Siberia on the unprecedented spread of wildfire…Read More

YAKUTSK, Russia — Gigantic wildfires are burning across Siberia on a record scale that is larger than all the fires raging this summer around the world combined.

The massive blazes in Russia are fueled in part by extreme heat waves and record droughts that scientists are blaming on warmer temperatures linked to climate change.

PHOTO: Smoke emitted from hundreds of forest fires covering most of Russia, Aug. 6, 2021.
NASA Earth Observatory/AFP via Getty ImagesNASA Earth Observatory/AFP via Getty ImagesSmoke emitted from hundreds of forest fires covering most of Russia, Aug. 6, 2021. This…Read More

The worst hit region is Yakutia, a vast semi-autonomous republic around 3,000 miles east of Moscow that in winter is one of the coldest inhabited places on Earth. The fires have been burning since late spring in Yakutia and are already among the largest ever recorded.

The region is enduring a historic drought that is feeding the fires. The huge quantities of smoke has drifted as far as Alaska and the North Pole. Local authorities are struggling to contain the infernos, saying they have only a fraction of the manpower and equipment needed.

PHOTO: Volunteers pause while working at the scene of forest fire near Kyuyorelyakh village at Gorny Ulus area west of Yakutsk, in Russia, Aug. 7, 2021.
Ivan Nikiforov/APIvan Nikiforov/APVolunteers pause while working at the scene of forest fire near Kyuyorelyakh village at G…Read More

In the region’s capital Yakutsk last week, in an office cluttered with equipment, Sviatoslav Kolesov looked short of sleep as he showed the latest situation on a map marked with bright orange patches marking the miles of land burning.

A senior pilot-observer with Yakutia’s branch of the federal Aerial Forest Protection Service, Kolesov has been directing his small teams to contain the titanic fires and keep them away from villages outside Yakutsk.

PHOTO: Firefighters work at the scene of forest fire near Kyuyorelyakh village at Gorny Ulus area, west of Yakutsk, in Russia, Aug. 5, 2021.
Ivan Nikiforov/APIvan Nikiforov/APFirefighters work at the scene of forest fire near Kyuyorelyakh village at Gorny Ulus area…Read More

“I’ve been working since 1988 and I have never seen such a summer,” Kolesov said. “Now is crazy. There are too many fires and pretty much all of them are major.”As people flee fires in Greece, those trapped plead for help

A state of emergency has been declared in Yakutia over the fires that are estimated by local authorities to cover around 1.5 million hectares. For over a month, thick, acrid smog has hung over hundreds of miles over the region, frequently blanketing the capital and in places blocking out the sun.

PHOTO: The remains of a burned forest at Gorny Ulus area west of Yakutsk, in the republic of Sakha, Siberia, July 27, 2021.
Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty ImagesDimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty ImagesThe remains of a burned forest at Gorny Ulus area west of Yakutsk, in the republic of Sa…Read More

Siberia’s warm summers and forest fires are part of life here but not on this magnitude. Since 2017, the region has had unusually dry summers and last year saw record temperatures, including the highest ever recorded in the Arctic.

Until 2017 the republic could expect one or two major fires a year, said Pavel Arzhakov, an instructor from the Aerial Forest Protection Service, who was overseeing efforts at a large fire about 150 miles west of Yakutsk.

But this year, he said, there are 30 to 40 major fires.

PHOTO: The sunlight is filtered through smoke from burning forests near the village of Magaras in the republic of Sakha, Siberia, July 27, 2021.
Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty ImagesDimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty ImagesThe sunlight is filtered through smoke from burning forests near the village of Magaras i…Read More

‘Code red’: UN scientists warn of worsening global warming

Greenpeace Russia estimates the fires have burned around 62,000 square miles across Russia since the start of the year. The current fires are larger than the wildfires in Greece, Turkey, Canada and the United States.

Russia’s emergency services says it is fighting nearly 200 fires across the country. But there are also dozens more that the agency is leaving to burn because they are not deemed a risk to population centers.

PHOTO: Smoke rises from a forest fire outside the village of Berdigestyakh, in the republic of Sakha, Siberia, July 27, 2021.
Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty ImagesDimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty ImagesSmoke rises from a forest fire outside the village of Berdigestyakh, in the republic of Sak…Read More

This year may pass Russia’s worst fire season in 2012 and Greenpeace has warned the biggest fire in Yakutia alone threatens to become unprecedented in scale.

“It’s possible it will be the biggest fire in the whole history of mankind. For now it’s competing with several famous historic fires in the U.S. in the 19th century,” he told Euronews.

PHOTO: The shadow of an aircraft of the Air Forest Protection Service flys over a burned forest in Sakha, Russia, July 27, 2021.
Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty ImagesDimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty ImagesThe shadow of an aircraft of the Air Forest Protection Service flys over a burned forest i…Read More

The fire teams in Yakutia are in a vastly unequal fight with the blazes. Teams from the Aerial Forest Protection Service set up camps in the taiga and are trying to contain the fires with trenches and controlled burns. They have little equipment and firefighting planes are used only rarely.

Authorities have sent some reinforcements from other regions. At one camp, a team had flown around 2,000 miles from Khanty-Mansiyisk and have now been in Yakutia’s forest about a month.

“We’re putting the kraken back in the cage,” joked one fire fighter, Yura Revnivik as his team set a controlled burn, trying to direct a fire toward a nearby lake.

PHOTO: A forest fire burns outside the village of Byas-Kyuel, Russia, July 26, 2021.
Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty ImagesDimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty ImagesA forest fire burns outside the village of Byas-Kyuel, Russia, July 26, 2021.

But there are nowhere near enough people for the scale of the fires, local firefighters said. Hundreds of local people have volunteered to try to fill the gap. Afanasy Yefremov, a teacher from Yakutsk, said he was spending his weekends trying to help.

“I have lived 40 years and I don’t remember such fires,” he said. “Everywhere is burning and there aren’t enough people.”

Local firefighters in Yakutia in part blamed the scale of the fires on authorities’ failure to extinguish the blazes early on, a consequence they said in part of cuts to the federal forestry fire service.

PHOTO: Members of Aerial Forest Protection Service brigade receive instructions from a pilot observer while work to extinguish a forest fire at the edge of the village of Byas-Kyuel, Russia, July 26, 2021.
Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty ImagesDimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty ImagesMembers of Aerial Forest Protection Service brigade receive instructions from a pilot ob…Read More

The fires are worrisome far beyond Russia. They are releasing huge quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Yakutia’s fires have already produced a record amount of carbon emissions, according to the European Union’s Copernicus satellite monitoring unit.

The 505 megatons of emissions released since June would be more than Britain’s entire carbon dioxide emissions for the whole of 2019.

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