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ESA satellite spots wildfires burning across Siberia

Wildfires continue to burn in Alaska, Greenland and throughout Siberia, releasing record amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere and blanketing cities with smoke.

By
Brooks Hays
Dozens of wildfires continue to burn throughout Siberia, as seen in this newly released photograph taken by the European Space Agency's Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellite. Photo by Copernicus/ESA
Dozens of wildfires continue to burn throughout Siberia, as seen in this newly released photograph taken by the European Space Agency's Copernicus Sentinel-3 satellite. Photo by Copernicus/ESA

July 31 (UPI) -- European Space Agency satellites are helping scientists track Siberian wildfires. From the vantage of space, dozens of wildfires are visible.

As UPI reported last week, wildfires are burning in Alaska, Greenland and throughout Siberia, releasing record amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. This week, ESA images confirmed the fires continue to burn in Siberia.

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According to Russia's Federal Forestry Agency, the fires, which have been burning for the last two months, have affected 3 million hectares -- or 11,000 square miles -- of Siberian forest and tundra.

The newly released Copernicus Sentinel-3 photograph showcases several fires in Siberia, the smoke from which has polluted the air in the Russian cities of Kemerovo, Tomsk, Novosibirsk and Altai. Strong winds have helped spread the Arctic fires, while also carrying smoke to distant population centers.

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Arctic fires aren't unheard of -- they're fairly common in the summer when lightning strikes. But this season's blazes are more intense and spreading farther north than ever before. Scientists suggest the record-setting fire season was made possible by soaring temps brought on by climate change.

According to Mark Parrington, senior scientist with Europe's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, the Arctic's fires have released approximately 100 megatons, 100 million metric tons, of CO2 since June -- a total Parrington said on Twitter "is getting close to 2017 fossil fuel CO2 emissions of Belgium."

Though there have been no casualties in Siberia as a result of the fire, Russian officials declared a state of emergency in the region.

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Scientists are concerned the soot and ash from the blazes will be deposited on ice in Greenland and throughout the Arctic, causing ice to absorb more solar energy and melt more easily.

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