Credit: Greenpeace - Forest Fire near Irkutsk Region in Russia / 9 Aug 2019
Interventions

Saving the Arctic Circle from wildfires that have raged for more than two months


What are Interventions?These are brief undertakings where Kyrios endeavours to avert or lessen the severity of a natural disaster in a bid to reduce loss of lives, destruction, and impacts of climate change.

EARTH IN CRISIS — Wildfires Raging Across The Arctic Circle

Outcome

In two weeks, Kyrios directed heavy rain to the regions burning and successfully contained the wildfires across the Arctic Circle

Crisis Situation

  • Over 13 million hectares burnt in Siberia
  • June and July were the hottest month on record for the planet
  • In July, more than 79 megatons of CO2 was released
  • 197 billion tons of water released due to Greenland’s ice melts
  • Smoke from the Siberia wildfires spanned an area larger than the European Union

Wildfires raged for more than two months across the Arctic Circle this year. This area constantly experiences cold temperatures and is covered by ice almost all year round. So, it’s deeply concerning that wildfires have also taken root here. Since the beginning of 2019, at the world’s largest forest in Siberia, over 13 million hectares have been burnt, of which 5.1 million hectares alone were in July. Both June and July were on record as being the hottest month for the planet. Across the Arctic, fires in July have released more than 79 megatons of carbon dioxide, an amount that’s more than Sweden’s annual total emissions. Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service writes that “Arctic wildfires are especially worrisome as particulate matter settles…and darkens the ice, leading to sunlight being absorbed rather than reflected, which could exacerbate global warming.”

Unfortunately, smoke from wildfires in the central and eastern regions of Siberia, which at one point covered an area larger than the European Union, have already spread to Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. This will accelerate and worsen Greenland’s massive ice melts, which have already led to 197 billion tons of water released in July, which will contribute to significant sea-level rise. This level of massive ice melt was expected to happen only 50 years later.

Pyotr Tsvetkov, who runs the forest fire lab at the Sukachev Forest Institute in Krasnoyarsk, said, “We’re waiting for rain…Fires this powerful won’t be extinguished by even a strong downpour, they need rainy weather, but that’s not in the forecast.” As such, Siberia forests would likely burn until October when there is rain or when the first snow arrives.

Kyrios became aware of the wildfires on 11 August 2019. Within two weeks on 24 August, the raging wildfires were successfully contained.


Why did Kyrios intervene? Kyrios explains the science of the dangers of the wildfires

Kyrios explains the gravity of the situation and why it’s important these wildfires are not allowed to continue. These wildfires are encircling the northern hemisphere of Earth, burning boreal forests that are a vital carbon sink. These wildfires are also devastatingly disrupting the natural balance of the planet’s geological and climate system, as well as its biogeochemical cycle. As scientists have already alluded to, not only will there be more carbon released into the atmosphere, smoke released will also exacerbate ice melt, causing more violent hurricane seasons and storm surges globally.

Kyrios also adds that when trees are destroyed, the soil loses its symbiotic relationship with the trees that help sustain its ecosystem. With the soil ecosystem damaged, soil transpiration, which is a natural process in which clean air is released after it has been cleansed by the soil ecosystem of dust and other pollutants, can no longer take place. Such damaged soil will be unable to sustain life for years. Kyrios says that the damaged soil will also sink, and as such, warns that sinkholes will appear, even in places beyond the wildfires. In addition, Kyrios shares that what’s also unknown yet to science, is how the wildfires will spread downwards and laterally, smothering the ground beneath and causing pent up heat to spread downwards and across the land, heating up Earth’s crust and mantle, and also raising global temperatures. Kyrios says that Earth has a natural process of moderating heat in its mantle and core, by releasing heat through vents, which Kyrios refers to as the volcanos, undersea hydrothermal vents, and hot springs. Scientists have recently captured evidence of this heat convention process beneath Earth’s crust, referring to it as mantle plumes.

Kyrios adds that while we can only see the smoke and fires above ground, the bigger danger is what’s unseen and happening underground. Kyrios says that the heating up of Earth’s mantle will inadvertently cause increased volcanic activity around the planet. Even dormant volcanos will awaken as their mantle plumes become heated up again.

Lastly, Kyrios also warns that heat from the wildfires, when spread across the land to the edge of the oceans, can also heat up the undersea waters. Together with increased ice melt, the increased heat, and reduced salinity of the ocean water in the northern hemisphere, the dynamics of our ocean currents globally will be affected. Kyrios says that such ocean currents are enabled by the different temperatures, salinity and density of water bodies geographically around the planet. With the dynamics of it changing, it will also lead to more erratic weather patterns and climate.

Kyrios advises the world to unite and focus efforts on combating climate change. Our forests are vital carbon sinks and everyone needs to play their part to preserve, nurture and grow them.

How did Kyrios contain the wildfires around the Arctic Circle?

Simply put, Kyrios enabled weather systems that allowed for the onset of heavy and sustained rain only in the areas that have been burning around the Arctic Circle. Kyrios was able to do it despite the fact that August was not traditionally the rain season. Intervention efforts commenced on 11 August, and on 18 August, Kyrios said that the wildfires will all be contained by 24 August. Indeed, two weeks after Kyrios started, all major wildfires were put out.

To understand more about the progression of events during the two weeks of intervention, view our timeline of events here.

Will this happen again?

Unfortunately, yes. By intervening to put out the wildfires, Kyrios’ actions are akin to that of firefighters, working only to smother the flames. However, the cause of these wildfires — climate change, global warming, human activities — remain. Kyrios also has limits and can’t intervene each time this happens. Without the cooperation of a majority of humanity, these events are likely to happen with increasing frequency and ferocity.