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Alaska on fire and melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica

According to the Bureau of Land Management Alaska Fire Service (AFS), in the summer 2022, tens of thousands of lightning strikes caused the majority of fires in Alaska. By the end of August this year, more than 1.2 million hectares had burned across the state. This is nearly three times as much as the annual average value. Fires devouring tundra and boreal forests release huge amounts of greenhouse gases from carbon-rich organic soil. According to a report by Copernicus Climate Change Service, Arctic fires that erupted above the 66th  North Parallel released approximately 16 million tCO into the atmosphere in 2021 – roughly the annual emissions of the Peruvian economy.

This September, Greenland has recorded historically the largest ice melt for the month, comparable only to the summer months. The first day of September usually marks the end of the melting season in Greenland, as the sun moves lower and temperatures drop. However, the warm airflow moving northwards across Baffin Bay and the west coast of Greenland has resulted in rising temperatures and the loss of tens of billions of tonnes of ice.

Scientists from the British Antarctic Survey, among other institutions, have for the first time mapped a significant area of the seafloor in front of the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica at high resolution, revealing the rate at which it retreated in the past. The study indicates that the glacier may retreat at high speed in future years. Experts suggest that the total loss of the Thwaites Glacier and surrounding ice pools may raise sea levels by 1 to 3 m.

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