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Fire season begins in Siberia, extreme heat in northwestern Russia

Western Europe is experiencing a colder and wetter spring than usual. Also much of North America. The southern hemisphere is well into fall.

This situation could make us forget the reality of global warming or we could even be tempted to deny it. Climate change, in this weather?

However, some areas of the Arctic begin spring with extreme temperatures. The Barents Sea reached 27º C this Thursday, May 13. In Siberia the first forest fires begin to occur. Some are suspected of having simply not been extinguished since last summer, they have continued to smolder and reignite with the arrival of milder temperatures and drier weather.

At the moment there is no talk of a heat wave in western Russia, and no records have been broken either. Meteorologist Scott Duncan recalls that it is not unusual for parts of Finland and Russia to experience huge differences in temperature. It should be noted that the region has also experienced an exceptionally cold winter.

In short, it is too early to attribute this situation to climate change, but the trend in recent years is unequivocal.

After the last years, marked by the heat in Siberia and the north of central Russia and with an unprecedented number of fires reaching the Arctic Circle, the scientific community is looking closely at what is happening in the region.

Intense and early fires, but not alarming

Mark Parrington scientist from the Atmosphere Monitoring Service of the European Copernicus network recalls that it is still early to assess the season but emissions from fires in the cities of Omsk and Tyumen are well above the average of recent years, although they have not broken the record.

The graph shows, in red, the daily radiation emitted by the Omsk and Tyumen fires this 2021. In gray, the usual average since 2003 is shown. Below, in black, the annual estimate of carbon emissions from the fires in these regions between April 1 and May 12. Although they are high, they were worse in previous years.

In the whole of Russia so far there have been fewer fires than the average since 2003.

Fire risk monitoring systems indicate very favorable conditions for fires in much of western Russia and Central Asia. And also in the areas of Siberia where the most important fires have been started.

Following the tweets published about the fires in Omsk and Tyumen published by the Directorate General for the Defense and Space industry of the European Commission, a heated debate has been generated among experts.

Some suggest that globally, fires have decreased. Others reply that what is significant is not the volume, but where they are being produced. Sometimes in the middle of the Arctic Circle. In the thread the origin – natural or caused – of the fires is also debated.

The bottom line is, invariably, that although there are lightning fires at high latitudes, humans are primarily responsible.

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