Scientists from the Netherlands and Alaska discovered that the number of “zombie fires” caused by the reignition of extinct fires increased by almost 40 times. He reported that fires that continued under snow during the winter months accounted for only 0.8 percent of the total area burned in the Arctic circle between 2002 and 2018, but increased to 38 percent in 2019.
Scientists are working on the ongoing “zombie fires” in the Arctic Circle. A new study revealed that zombie fires accounted for one-third of the total burn area in the Arctic Circle. Zombie fires, also known as winter fires, often occur in countries such as Canada, Alaska, and Russia.
In June and July 2019, temperatures around the world rose to record levels and more than 100 wildfires broke out in the Arctic circle. These fires destroyed millions of hectares of forests in Siberia, Alaska, Greenland and Canada and released 244 megatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
The scientists who conducted the study worry that the number of zombie fires may increase in the future due to rising global temperatures.
Zombie fires occur as a result of forest fires. These are called zombie fires because they appear after the fires are out.
After a forest fire is extinguished on the surface, some still continue to burn underground, feeding on peat and methane.These fires can continue to burn all winter, hiding under a layer of snow, and as the temperature rises in the spring, when the snow melts and the soil dries, the forest fires again ignite it can spread once more.
“Because of the low oxygen levels under the snow, winter fires continue to burn slowly, but in the spring they reignite when the snow melts and dry conditions arrive,” said Rebecca C. Scholten of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands, the study’s lead author.
As part of the study, scientists looked at North Pole satellite data collected between 2002 and 2018. They found that zombie fires were responsible for about 1 percent of the total burned area over the course of the study, but they found that this had increased over the years and increased to 38 percent a year by 2019.
“Previous wintry fires were reported as a rare strange phenomenon. However, there are more winter fires after hot summers with many large and violent fires. It caused 22 of them, “he said.