Almost 17 million vertebrates killed in the 2020 wildfires in Brazil

Scientists estimate that 16.9 million vertebrates were killed by fires in the Pantanal wetlands, Brazil, between Jan & Nov 2020.

Sampling likely excluded species incl. jaguars, pumas & tapirs, & doesn’t reflect subsequent animal deaths from habitat loss.

We are professional fire watchers, and we’re astounded by the scale of fires in remote Australia right now

While southern Australia experienced a wet winter and a soggy spring, northern Australia has seen the opposite. Extreme fire weather in October and November led to bushfires across 120,000 square kilometers of southern savanna regions.

Significant fires continue to burn in the Kimberley, the Top End, Cape York and the northern deserts. And while recent rain across the central deserts has reduced the current fire risk, it will significantly increase fuel loads which creates the potential for large wildfires in summer.

The scale of burning we’re now seeing astounds us – almost as much as the lack of interest they generate.

Drought and heatwaves in Australia cause widespread tree death

The drought and heatwaves that seared eastern Australia in the lead-up to the 2019-20 black summer bushfires killed as much as 60% of the trees in some areas that escaped the fires.

While Australian species are typically hardened to extreme conditions, the record heat and dryness of 2019 pushed some common tree varieties beyond their thresholds, potentially threatening whole ecosystems if they don’t grow back.

The widespread loss of often common species could trigger the transformation of ecosystems from forests to woodlands, or woodlands to scrublands.

The potential change of tree species could have far-reaching effects because such shifts would alter the availability and seasonality of food resources for insects, birds and other species.

Forest fires in Australia are worsening

The Black Summer forest fires of 2019–2020 in Australia burned more than 24 million hectares (59 million acres), directly causing 33 deaths and almost 450 more from smoke inhalation. Nearly 3 billion animals (mammals, reptiles, birds, and frogs) were killed or displaced.

A study has found:

  • The annual area burned by fire across Australia’s forests has been increasing by about 48,000 hectares (119,000 acres) per year over the last three decades. After 5 years, that would be roughly the size of the entire Australian Capital Territory.
  • In the past 90 years, there were four megafire years (defined as a year in which more than one million hectares burn). The first was 1939, and the subsequent three all occurred after 2001. 
  • The fire season is growing, spreading out of spring and summer into autumn and winter.

US wildfires have killed nearly 20% of world’s giant sequoias in 2 years

Sequoias are the largest trees by volume and are native in only about 70 groves scattered along the western side of the Sierra Nevada range. They were once considered nearly fire-proof.

Fires tore through more than a third of groves in California and torched an estimated 2,261 to 3,637 sequoias. Fires in the same area last year killed an unprecedented 7,500 to 10,400 of the 75,000 trees.

Floods and wildfires are now normal life in small-town Canada

Three of British Columbia’s worst wildfire years have taken place in the last four years, and the widespread floods and mudslides last week took place after roughly a month’s worth of rain fell in a matter of days, leading to slides that tore apart highways and homes.

2021 wildfires in western U.S.

What the US Forest Service once characterized as a four-month-long fire season starting in late summer and early autumn now stretches into six to eight months of the year. Wildfires are starting earlier, burning more intensely and scorching swaths of land larger than ever before.

More than half of the 20 largest fires in California history burned in just the last four years.

More than 95% of the west remains mired in drought, with more than half of the region classified in extreme or exceptional conditions. It’s the most “expansive and intense” drought seen in this century, according to the US Drought Monitor.

“We are really concerned about what the fall is going to look like,” said AccuWeather’s chief meteorologist, Johnathan Porter. “It is hard to imagine it being any drier than it is now in southern California – it is a real extreme.”

“The trends that are driving this increase in fire risk, fire size, fire severity over time are continuing – that’s climate change.”

Russia forest fire damage worst since records began

Russia has endured its worst forest fire season in the country’s modern history.

Fires have destroyed more than 18.16 million hectares (45 million acres) of Russian forest in 2021, setting an absolute record since the country began monitoring forest fires using satellites in 2001. The previous record was set in 2012, when fires covered 18.11 million hectares of forest.

The statistics do not record other types of fires taking place outside Russia’s forests. The total area could be as high as 30 million hectares (74 million acres), an area the size of Italy or Poland.

California continues to burn

A severe drought, coupled with extreme temperatures, have sustained several major fires for much of August. As of 14 September, more than 7,000 wildfires have been recorded, burning over 900,000 hectares (2.2 million acres) across the state.

As the fires continue to burn, hot and dry conditions and forecasted thunderstorms have prompted officials to issue warnings through part of the state’s northwest coast.

Climate change is considered a key driver of this trend. In a recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), scientists concluded that that there is an unequivocal link between human activity and global warming. The report pointed to observations showing increases in drought and fires in the western United States, expecting this trend to continue in the future.

Wildfires in Russia spread to central regions

Russia’s forestry agency says fires this year have torn through more than 50 million acres (173,000 square kilometres, 67,000 square miles), making it the second-worst season since the turn of the century.

The changing climate in the U.S.

Wildfires devastate Bolivian nature reserves

The government said 200,000 hectares (495,000 acres) had burned in just two days.

Fires harming California’s efforts to curb climate change

John Battles, a professor of forest ecology at the University of California, Berkeley, said the fires are behaving in ways not seen in the past as flames churn through trees and brush desiccated by a megadrought in the West and exacerbated by climate change.

“These are reburning areas that have burned what we thought were big fires 10 years ago,” Battles said. “They’re reburning that landscape.”

The fire is burning along the U.S. Route 50 corridor, one of two highways between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. The highway through the canyon along the South Fork of the American River has been the focus of a decades-long effort to protect homes by preventing the spread of fires through a combination of fuel breaks, prescribed burns and logging.

“All of that is being tested as we speak,” Porter said. “When fire is jumping outside of its perimeter, sometimes miles … those fuel projects won’t stop a fire. Sometimes they’re just used to slow it enough to get people out of the way.”

Fueled by winds, largest wildfire moves near California city

The Dixie Fire has scorched more than 940 square miles (2,434 square kilometers, 602,000 acres) in the northern Sierra Nevada and southern Cascades since it ignited on July 13 and eventually merged with a smaller blaze called the Fly Fire. It’s less than a third contained.

Investigations are continuing, but PG&E has notified utility regulators that the Dixie and Fly fires may have been caused by trees falling into its power lines. The Dixie Fire began near the town of Paradise, which was devastated by a 2018 wildfire ignited by PG&E equipment during strong winds. Eighty-five people died.

Dixie fire burns 550 more homes, becoming one of most destructive in California history

The Dixie fire raging through northern California has destroyed another 550 homes, becoming one of the most destructive in state history.

The fire, the largest wildfire burning in the US, has all but leveled the town of Greenville and is still threatening a dozen small towns in the Sierra Nevada.

It has already burned more than 2,000 sq km (790 sq miles, 500,000 acres), officials said on Wednesday, and has destroyed more than 1,000 single-family homes since erupting in mid-July. It is 30% contained.

The fire is one of 11 burning across California.

California’s five largest wildfires in history have all occurred in the last three years, burning more than 2.5 million acres and destroying 3,700 structures.

In a summer of smoke, a small town wonders: ‘How are we going to do better than survive?’

As of Friday, more than 100 large fires were burning across 14 states. Smoke from Oregon’s Bootleg Fire, one of the nation’s largest at more than 413,000 acres burned, has already traveled to New York City and Washington, D.C. In recent days, the smoke over Minnesota and the Dakotas has pushed air quality into hazardous territory.

In Winthrop, two massive wildfires — the Cedar Creek and Cub Creek 2 — have been burning for much of the past month on either side of town. They have consumed more than 113,000 acres of forest.

Even though it’s only midsummer, Washington state has already had more than 1,200 wildfires. It’s a record for this time of year and nearly twice the average number over the past decade.

Mediterranean faces fiercer heatwaves, drought, fires: UN draft report

The Mediterranean will be hit by ever fiercer heatwaves, drought and fires supercharged by rising temperatures, according to a draft United Nations assessment that warns the region is a “climate change hotspot”.

“Reasons for concern include sea-level rise related risks, land and marine biodiversity losses, risks related to drought, wildfire, alterations of water cycle, endangered food production, health risks in both urban and rural settlements from heat, and altered disease vectors,” is its grim assessment.

The draft predicts that temperatures across the Mediterranean are likely to rise faster than the global average in the decades to come, threatening the region’s vital agriculture, fisheries and tourism sectors. Some Mediterranean regions could see rain-fed crop yields decrease by 64%.

Dixie Fire destroys much of California town as officials warn: ‘You MUST leave now’

The fire is one of 100 active large blazes in the United States, mostly torching parts of Western states that have been plagued by exceptional heat and drought, exacerbated by climate change. Those tinderbox conditions have fueled historically large wildfires in what’s anticipated to be a severe fire season in California.

“These are not the normal fires anymore,” Jake Cagle, an operations section chief.

Wildfires continue to rage across southern Europe

Since 28 July, 180 fires have broken out in Turkey, while more than 100 were still burning in Greece.

In Italy, the number of large wildfires is estimated to have tripled this summer compared to the yearly average. At the same time, the north of the country has been plagued by severe flooding and landslides.

In Greece, Athens’ first chief heat officer described “apocalyptic” scenes after villages burned down as a result of wildfires amid a protracted heatwave, during which temperatures reached 45˚C.

Fighting Siberia’s wildfires – in pictures

With more than a month to go in Siberia’s annual fire season, wildfires fuelled by summer heatwaves, have swept through more than 1.5 million hectares.

More residents flee as fires ravage western Canada

British Columbia declared a state of emergency on Monday, with more than 5,700 people under an evacuation order.

“I have been living here in Ashcroft for almost 25 years now and I have never seen anything like this before,” said Mayor Barbara Roden. “The most frightening thing in a lot of ways is that we’re all looking at the calendar and this is only half way through July,”.

New York air quality among worst in world as haze from western wildfires shrouds city

‘Airpocalypse’ hits Siberian city as heatwave sparks forest fires

The Siberian Times reported the first fire in the beginning of May outside Oymyakon in north-east Yakutia, which is known as “the pole of cold” for its record low temperatures.

“Little by little, people are beginning to understand that the climate is really changing, and the consequences are really catastrophic. But the majority of society and the majority of politicians are still very far from understanding the real scale of the problem.”

The Bootleg Fire in Oregon is among more than 60 wildfires in the U.S.

918,000 acres were burned by 67 large fires across the Western United States. So far this year, 2 million acres has been burned by 34,000 fires.

In Canada, fires have burned more than 500,000 acres.

Siberia wildfires: Russian army planes and thousands of firefighters battle blazes

In Siberia, 2 million acres of forest has been destroyed. The city of Yakutsk hit 35˚C at one point; and the region’s city of Verkhoyansk, seen as one of the coldest places on Earth, saw temperatures of over 30˚C.

The Siberian fires have raised fears about the permafrost and peatlands thawing, releasing carbon long stored in the frozen tundra.

American west stuck in cycle of ‘heat, drought and fire’

The intensity of the fires in California and Oregon is “not something you used to see” so early in the season.

Drought-hit ‘tinderbox’ California braces for fires in months ahead

“In the past, we may have had one fire in the summer that was notable. Now 50% of our fires are notable—and what I mean by notable is something that really, really exceeded our expectations on growth and intensity.”

Preparing for summer wildfire season

“Nothing looks good.”