By Sarah Brill, Science and Technology Editor
On August 1, 2020, NASA’s satellites captured images of the arctic on fire. BBC reported that the “satellite images show[ed] how the plumes of smoke from the fires, many caused by dry storms in hot weather, [could] be seen from space.” Contrary to popular belief, wildfires in the arctic region are quite common between the months of May and October, but the intensity and the length of time (the average wildfire burns for roughly 37 days) that these fires lasted was a cause for suspicion. It doesn’t take a scientist to note that abnormal wildfires, no matter the location, are caused by climate change. Not only is climate change causing these wildfires to ignite at the intensity that they are, but the fires themselves are also contributing towards raising atmospheric temperature. Every wildfire, no matter where they are located, increases the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, but because these fires were abnormal, they could cause detrimental effects to our atmosphere and ecosystem.
According to an analysis by science correspondent Jonathan Amos of BBC News, “global satellites are now tracking a swathe of new and ongoing wildfires within the Arctic Circle. The conditions were laid in June, the hottest June for the planet yet observed in the instrumented era. […] A lot of the particulate matter from these fires will eventually come to settle on ice surfaces further north, darkening them and thus accelerating melting.”
One of the most pressing climate issues right now is the rise in sea level and the melting of the ice caps. With the information that Mr. Amos has supplied to BBC News, it can be concluded that the melting process is about to be accelerated. A recent computer model, provided by The Washington Post, showed that at the rate Earth is heating, the arctic could become seasonally ice-free by 2035. And the process has already begun.
“With unusually warm conditions settling over northern Canada, a substantial portion of the remaining sections of the Milne Ice Shelf — Canada’s last remaining intact ice shelf, broke off Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, between July 28 and July 31, according to the Canadian Ice Service and newly released satellite photos from Planet Labs.” What was once the size of the District of Columbia, the Canadian ice shelf is now all water.
It cannot be stressed enough that climate change is real and that the ice caps are melting whether people want to believe it or not. The truth of the matter is that unless something is done within the next five years to delay the melting, there will soon be nothing left of the arctic, and a major part of the Earth’s landscape will be decimated.