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Siberia Is On Fire After Hottest And Driest Month In 133 Years

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Siberia Is On Fire After Hottest And Driest Month In 133 Years

Siberia is currently experiencing its warmest and driest month in 133 years, and the area has subsequently been ravaged by wildfires.

June 1888 is the last time the Yakutia region experienced a temperature of 38C.

In Winter, temperatures can drop to as low as minus 50C, showing just how hot the region currently is.

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Although Siberia has always had a wildfire season, the past two years have been of great concern.

Firefighters have been working non-stop to try and control the flames and to prevent the amount of damage that could yet take place.

Some haven't slept for two or even three days due to their continued efforts.

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With the threat of climate change becoming ever more prominent - as borne out by extreme weather events like the heatwave currently engulfing the UK - so too do the risks of forest fires and thawing permafrost.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Permafrost is permanently frozen soil that can date as far back as the Ice Age containing remains of archaic beasts like Mammoths.

But with thawing permafrost due to extreme heat and fires, the risk of harmful greenhouse gas emissions increases, such as methane and carbon which only adds to the gases already emitted by man.

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Wildfires in the region are mostly sparked by lightning strikes in dry thunderstorms.

Pavel Petrov, from the aerial forest protection service, has been working non-stop to coordinate the local effort to tackle the blazes.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

He said there were two or three days when he had no sleep at all, adding that he didn't sleep for a week when the fires struck last year.

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"We have peat bog here and the forest is dense - that's why the fires spread so fast," he told Sky News.

"Strong crown fires [which spread from treetop to treetop] you can't reverse. It's too dangerous and you could make things worse.

"We try to fight them at night when they get weaker.

"When they do, we dig a trench about a kilometre away and set the reverse fire. That's the only way to stop a strong crown fire."

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With an active area of just over 2,000 hectares in Yakutia alone, it is a major challenge forming a localised strategy to tackle every fire that needs its own team of dedicated firefighters to tackle them.

Many of Russia's wildfires burn on taiga too remote to access which means that they are only tackled if human habitation is threatened.

Even then, it depends on whether teams can reach these areas.

Petrov observed: "We [humans] damage Mother Nature ourselves [and] we have to deal with these problems ourselves."

Copy: Harry Norton

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Environment, Siberia, climate change

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