Fire season is underway in Canada. It tends to start early in Alberta and forests do burn, but the difference this year is one of scale: 2023 is an “already large fire year and it’s only mid-May,” said Brendan Rogers, an associate scientist who studies fires in Canada and Alaska’s boreal forests at the Woodwell Climate Research Center in Falmouth, Massachusetts.
Early Wednesday there were 92 active wildfires across energy-rich Alberta with 27 raging out of control, according to information linked to the province’s website. Across Canada as a whole, 477,613 hectares have burned this year as of May 10, or a 991% increase over the 10-year average of 48,207, according to the latest data from the Natural Resources Canada website.
Rogers said fire season across the boreal north has been getting longer. Snow is melting earlier — and things under a foot of frozen water don’t tend to burn. There is also more energy in the atmosphere, which leads to more lightning: nature’s fire starter. (Yet, a significant amount of fires are attributed to humans.)The factors creating the conditions for flames to rage out of control though “are all signals that can be tied to climate change,” Rogers said.The tundra is burning, too, and that leads to other issues, such as melting permafrost, which releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere making climate change worse. “This is a feedback loop we are concerned about,” Rogers said.The northern fires have also been depositing dark carbon on the region’s ice, which causes more melting. “The unfortunate part is we are locked in, for some extended time, to continued warming with worsening fire seasons,” Rogers said.
In other weather news today:
Europe: Formula 1 has canceled the Grand Prix scheduled to take place in Imola, northern Italy, this weekend after the region was hit by torrential rains and flooding that led to several deaths.
Vietnam: Major hydropower reservoirs in Vietnam are facing severe water shortages for the rest of the dry season due to El Nino, heat waves and drought, state utility Vietnam Electricity Group said in emailed statement.
Scandinavia: Temperatures in Helsinki will match those in Madrid early next week, as above-normal warmth covers Scandinavia and spreads to parts of northern Europe, according to forecaster Maxar Technologies.
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