August 17, 2021

Wild Weather and Wildfires



Wild Weather and Wildfires
Snow in Magadan. This picture is from January, not this summer, but still... Wikimedia Commons user Yevgeny Serov

Like the rest of the world, Russia has been experiencing some odd weather this summer.

Despite foreign stereotypes, Russia does have summer weather . . . usually. Even Siberia. But in the Siberian port city of Magadan, it has snowed three times this summer.

Up on the Kolyma Gulf on the Arctic, building summer snowpeople is not unusual. But in Magadan, at the southern end of the Kolyma Region, it is an unexpected way to spend a summer afternoon.

The snow has fallen in Magadan amid unusually hot weather in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and elsewhere in Russia. Wildfires in Siberia have become the world's worst at the moment. Yakutia, one of the world's coldest inhabited spots in the winter, is unseasonably hot and the hardest hit. The smoke has drifted to Alaska and the North Pole. The Yakutia fire could turn into the biggest fire in world history. With Russia the biggest country in the world by a large margin, this is not so surprising.

Greenpeace estimates that 62,000 square miles of Russia have burned in 2021. President Putin is alarmed. Wildfires accelerate carbon dioxide emissions in a nasty, nightmarish climate change loop: the Siberian fires have released more carbon dioxide than Britain's emissions for the entire year of 2019.

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