Mother Jones) For the past few weeks, dry and warm weather have fueled large forest fires across Canada's remote Northwest Territories. The extent of those fires is well above average for the year to-date, and is in line with climate trends of more fires burning in the northern reaches of the globe.
Of the 186 wildfires in the Northwest Territories to-date this year,
156 of them are currently burning. That includes the Birch Creek Fire
complex, which stretches over 250,000 acres.
The amount of acres burned in the Northwest Territories is six times
greater than the 25-year average to-date according to data from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center.
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 combined boreal forests of Canada, Europe, Russia and Alaska,
account for 30 percent of the world's carbon stored in land, carbon
that's taken up to centuries to store. Forest fires like those currently
raging in the Northwest Territories, as well as ones in 2012 and 2013
in Russia, can release that stored carbon into the atmosphere and
contribute to global warming. Warmer temperatures can in turn create a
feedback loop, priming forests for wildfires that release more carbon
into the atmosphere and cause more warming. The Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change's landmark climate report
released earlier this year indicates that for every 1.8 degree
Fahrenheit rise in temperatures, wildfire activity is expected to
double. Read More