IThere are fires in Canada and Russia. Thousands of forest fires engulf Siberia, most at vegetation transitions in the south, where it is already hotter and drier; nearly a hundred fires have been recorded in Western Canada, in the province of Alberta. At the beginning of May, nearly 383,000 hectares of forest had already burned. Lots of fires, nothing special here or there, but reports of disasters at this time of year are unusual. People have died in the Siberian kurgan fire, and in Canada the state of emergency has never been declared so early in the year. 29,000 people in lake-rich Alberta had to be evacuated. 408 fires in early May, extreme drought, it’s unusual. The overall situation in western Canada continues to be “unpredictable,” Edmonton-based broadcaster Global News reported.
Unpredictable is probably the most apt description for regional fire risk in so-called boreal forests, such as the tundra and northern steppes. The only thing that is clear is that the risk of fire has globally increased in recent years. Higher temperatures — western Canada, for example, already average nearly two degrees above pre-industrial levels — and longer dry spells have extended fire seasons. Climate change is a particularly powerful driver of disasters here. This makes forecasting even more difficult. A surprise for the season, a record heat dome is expected over western North America for the next few days after recent rains.
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