The heatwaves that Siberia has been experiencing for months has caused its wildfires according to the National Geographic’s July 2020 article. Temperatures soared up to 100 F degrees resulting in these wildfires and have also melted the permafrost (Stone, 2020).
Scientists fears that this could be a regular occurrence every summer. The soil is typically too wet, cold and icy to burn might be the start that the Artic is will undergo changes that could cascade into other consequences both local and global, the article says. The thawing tundra could release carbon that has been stored for over hundreds of years, reshaping the ecosystem and causing new species to take over (Stone, 2020).
What is happening in the Arctic that is something different from the past
Although summer wildfires are not uncommon, scientists are observing that fires are expanding to the north and the types of ecosystems that are burning (Stone, 2020).
Stone (2020) says, “The measure of fire heat output from the wildfires exceeds anything the Arctic has experienced since 2003.”
The Siberian town of Verkhoyansk experienced a record-breaking 100-degree day and scientist have been observing higher than average temperatures for weeks and months (Stone, 2020).
The DW article also mentions that the receding glacier cover is contributing to warming temperatures. White ice caps reflect most of the sun’s radiation to space, but the receding ice is leaving darker open water that absorbs the sun’s rays and speeds up melting and also prevents ice from forming (Kuebler & Schauenberg, 2020).
The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else on earth, the article states. The moth of Junes usually has average temperatures of 66 F, and most of the ground is frozen throughout the summer, but heatwaves in recent years are becoming a severe problem. Also, the average temperature of July this year is 10 degrees higher than average (Kuebler & Schauenberg, 2020).
Flooding in China, worst in decades
Meanwhile, China has experienced the worst flooding in decades. Overspills from the Yangtze River – China’s longest and most important waterway has caused flooding in the past. The Three Gorges Dam that was completed in 2009 and designed to prevent flooding is now examined for its efficacy the South China Morning post says (Wong, 2020).
In the past, China has suffered devastating floods from the riverbank’s overspills. Apart from the Covid-19 pandemic, the 1931 Central China floods was the deadliest disaster claiming 3.7 million lives. In 1998 the flooding had killed 4000 people and displaced 14 million people (Wong, 2020).
What has caused China’s worst flooding this year
According to the China Meteorological Administration, the country has experienced a 20 per cent increase in heavy rainfall since 1961. Extreme rainfall has raised water levels of 433 rivers above flood control, some of them reaching record highs. On July 2, the Yangtze River water level has reached almost 147 meters, its first flood peak of the year (Wong, 2020).
China’s 27 out of 31 provinces were hammered by heavy rains since early June this year. It has affected 37 million people, 141 deaths, and economic losses of around US$12.3 billion (Wong, 2020).
Extreme weather events like the heatwaves in Siberia and flooding in China are just two examples of what climate scientist calls observed climate changes and trends. They have been calling for climate adaptation and mitigation measures to buffer the impacts of climate change.