XE Explains: Arctic Wildfires

XE Explains: Arctic Wildfires

06.04.2022: Arctic Wildfires… a strange name – not only are the ice caps in the Arctic melting, but it’s also ablaze with fire. How does this happen? What exactly are Arctic wildfires? What does this mean for our current climate? Professor Peter Wadhams, wh

Arctic Wildfires… a strange name – not only are the ice caps in the Arctic melting, but it’s also ablaze with fire. How does this happen? What exactly are Arctic wildfires? What does this mean for our current climate?

Professor Peter Wadhams, who teaches Ocean Physics at the University of Cambridge and is Extreme E’s Arctic Expert, explains.

Extreme E: What are wildfires, more specifically arctic wildfires, and how are they created?

Professor Peter Wadhams:
Wildfires are unplanned and uncontrolled fires that burn in natural wildlands like savannas, forests and grasslands. They are often sparked off by human activity, inadvertent (such as sunlight on broken glass) or deliberate (arson) or from natural causes, like lightning.

Weather conditions – including wind, rain and temperatures – all influence how widely a wildfire can spread. Wildfires in the Arctic are usually due to natural causes and in the past have spread across Siberia, Alaska, Greenland and Canada. Usually a natural ecosystem process, these Arctic wildfires are often left to burn out unless they pose any human or wildlife threats. This can be quite dangerous as the arctic stores over 1,400 gigatonnes (billion tons) of carbon. As fires burn, carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.

Fires identifiable by tendrils of smoke from the ground, called zombie fires, are also a concern. They tend to burn quietly and slowly, usually longer than most can track. Sadly, these fires are not easily extinguishable as they tend to move below the surface.

XE: Where are the wildfires located and have they affected the North Pole?

In recent years, California, Eastern Russia and Alaska have become major wildfire hotspots. As far as the Arctic is concerned, the real worry is the big area of brushfires of Yakutia in eastern Siberia, which began in summer of 2020 due to unusual record high temperatures.

It continued to smoulder though the winter, then broke out again in 2021 (and we fear potentially also in 2022). These fires represent the largest area of continuous brushfire in the world, over 3.4m acres of Siberian wildfires during 2020, and spread to Alaska and even parts of Canada.

Rapidly rising Arctic temperatures are drying out vegetation in the Arctic tundra. Coupled with strong winds and increasing lightning, it provides the prime conditions for irregularly large fires. With little access to resources to stop the spreading of fires, soot and dirt lofted into the air by the fires are continually being dumped onto Arctic glaciers.

During the Extreme E’s Arctic X Prix which took place in in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland, drivers, scientists and team members collected ice caps samples from the Russell Glacier. The samples are currently being analysed in Italy to find the source location of the fires that produced the soot landing on the glacier.

Professor Peter Wadhams in Greenland for last year's Arctic X Prix

XE: Are wildfires in the Arctic common?

No. Although wildfires are common, Arctic wildfires were fairly uncommon and unknown until 2019. They have been an unusual phenomenon in recent years on this scale especially in terms of intensity and location. It has previously been assumed the melting permafrost is too damp and soggy to permit combustion, but this theory has since been proven incorrect.

XE: How do you measure the damage?

: We use ground-based methane detectors positioned at multiple sites across the Arctic to calculate how much greenhouse gas (especially methane) is being released per unit area per unit time to see the true amount of damage.

Global satellites are used to track wildfires across the Arctic Circle, monitoring strong winds, fire direction and areas of damage. Arctic Council’s Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) examines and evaluates the Arctic impacts, including air quality.

XE: What does this mean for our current climate?

Wildfires significantly affect atmospheric and surface climate change. Black carbon and other harmful pollutants and toxic gases released from fire emissions, like CO2 and methane, contribute to climate warming. This is detrimental in areas like the Arctic, where warming is three times the global average. Fire soot warms the atmosphere by absorbing sunlight.

When this soot falls on light coloured surfaces like ice or snow, that usually reflects most of the incoming sunlight radiation back out into space, more heat is trapped in the atmosphere as the dark surfaces absorb more of the radiation (known as lowering the albedo). This in turn speeds up ice/snow melting. The phenomenon is commonly known as 'black ice'.

XE: How have the Arctic wildfires affected wildlife?

Through Extreme E, we have studied the effect of wildfires on olive plantations and wild vegetation. We will be going back to the experimental area in Sardinia later this year. We have seen terrible effects on agriculture - e.g. ancient olive trees burnt to their roots.

This is how one of the legacy projects was created to rehabilitate and reforest the olive groves. The effect on wildlife (an extreme case being the Australian fires) has not been studied extensively yet, but we plan to start a study this year.

Image captured from last year's Arctic X Prix in Greenland

XE: Unknown to others, we heard that wildfires in some cases can be quite positive, is this true?

Yes. Not many people know that wildfires can be great for our environment and ecosystems to keep them healthy. Fires at low intensities can clear up those detrimental to the areas like debris, insects and diseases harming vegetation, making way for new to grow.

This includes plants and herbs that are essential for animal habitats to thrive. Also, the wildfires allow pockets of space to be opened up for sunlight to filter through, aiding plant and tree growth.

XE: Are wildfires likely to occur more frequently in the future?

: Sadly, yes. As climate change continues to exacerbate environmental conditions causing bushlands to become drier, Arctic areas will fall victim to more unusual climate events like wildfires. By helping reduce overall climate change, we can help contribute to regulating the occurrence of such extreme events like wildfires in areas like the Arctic.

Image captured from last year's Arctic X Prix in Greenland

XE: What are the plans to help with dealing with the aftermath?

: We will be discussing this with the Foundation in Sennariolo with which I am currently working. Closer management of bush and undergrowth seems to be a key. Also, to help reduce the emissions, there has been an initiative to plant more trees to restore the Arctic forests. One of the organisations, 1t.org, part of the World Economic Forum, intends to conserve, restore and grow one trillion trees by 2030.

XE: How can we personally contribute and help limit the damage?

There are so many answers here, but my advice is to do two things:

- Drive a smaller car, ideally an electric or hybrid. Avoid SUVs!
- Eat less meat and more vegetables. Cows and their digestive systems are one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases, as well as using up land that could be used for crops. If you can't give up meat, try having two meat free days a week, like Prince Charles.



XE: What climate events have had an impact at the Poles?

The increase of greenhouse gases since the industrial revolution has caused temperatures to increase worldwide but more significantly near the poles, where the Arctic, for instance is warming faster than any other parts of the world. As a result, the glaciers' ice are melting, falling into the sea and so the thinning of the ice, will soon turn into open water, decreasing on land.

With the white surface is replaced by dark blue of the sea, global warming is speeded up. The warmer air moving over the permanent ice caps of Greenland and Antarctic causes a melting of the land ice, which is now the biggest source of global sea level rising. this will have a huge effect through flooding of natural coastal environments and human coastal settlements and cities. It is something we cannot fight, but must learn to live with.

Season 2 Calendar:

Round 1: Neom, Saudi Arabia
19-20 February 2022

Round 2: Sardinia, Italy
07-08 May 2022

Round 3: Scotland or Senegal
09-10 July 2022

Round 4: Antofagasta, Chile
10-11 September 2022

Round 5: Punta del Este, Uruguay
26-27 November 2022

Julia Fry- photos Extreme E

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/xe-explains-artic-wildfires---235982.html

06.04.2022 / MaP

More News

Solid start to Season 2 hints at more to come from Chip Ganassi Extreme E Racing
After an inaugural first season of Extreme E beset by bad luck, Chip Ganassi Extreme E Racing enjoyed a promising start to the 2022 campaign.Kyle LeDuc and Sara Price were competitive throughout the opening round in NEOM, Saudi Arabia, for the American more >>
How Extreme E is continuing to pioneer a level playing field
With Extreme E Season 2 now underway, the sport for purpose Championship remains as pioneering as ever.This is none more evidenced than in its gender equal format, and International Women’s Day marks an opportunity for Extreme E to underline how it is continuing to champi more >>
First Extreme E experience for Nasser Al-Attiyah and Jutta Kleinschmidt in the desert
    Nasser Al-Attiyah and Jutta Kleinschmidt have competed for the first time as teammates in Neom, Saudi Arabia     The CUPRA Tavascan XE made its Extreme E debut    Record number of e more >>
Extreme E and Ba'a Foundation maintain strong progress in protecting endangered sea turtles
Extreme E, in partnership with Ba’a Foundation, is making strong progress in the protection of endangered sea turtles along the Red Sea coastline.The sport for purpose championship has teamed up with the Saudi Arabian non-profit organi more >>
Highs and lows for Veloce Racing at Desert X Prix
Pace and promise shown during Extreme E season opener   Veloce Racing experienced the highs and lows of top-level motorsport during the Extreme E season opener in Saudi Arabia this weekend (18-20 February) as the young squad showed huge promise in the Des more >>
Extreme E season opener with ABT CUPRA XE whets appetite for more
Fast times, thrilling races, strong teamwork and a bit of drama here and there – this season opener of ABT CUPRA XE already whets the appetite for the next races. Jutta Kleinschmidt and Nasser Al-Attiyah missed out on a place in the f more >>
Driver quotes after Desert X Prix Neom
EXTREME E  DESERT X PRIX NEOM, Saudi ArabiaSunday, February 20th 2022Johan Kristoffersson, RXR, said: "It feels really good, but every week feels good. Every time we go for a race we have the aim to win, but the competition is so high this year, especially with McLaren coming in, which raises the bar even higher. We learned q more >>
Rosberg X Racing win the opening X Prix of Extreme E Season 2, results and standings
  Rosberg X Racing (RXR) were the winners of the Desert X Prix in the Extreme E Season 2 opener in NEOM, Saudi Arabia.Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky and Johan Kristoffersson were the victors in a Final of two halves, as a red flag was bro more >>
McLaren XE fight back in the Crazy Race to claim Desert X Prix Final spot
McLaren XE recovered from a difficult Qualifying session to win the The Crazy Race, taking the fifth spot in the Desert X Prix Final away from JBXE in the closing stages.Emma Gilmour (NZL) / Tanner Foust (USA), McLaren Extreme E during the Saud more >>
Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona | Sainz XE Team secure Desert X Prix Final spots
Chip Ganassi Racing secured a comfortable win in Semi-Final 2 to progress to the Desert X Prix Final, with ACCIONA | Sainz XE Team joining them as Genesys Andretti United Extreme E crashed out on the second lap.Sara Price (USA) / Kyle Leduc (USA), more >>
X44 and RXR proceed to Desert X Prix Final after thrilling three-way battle
X44 fought back from last place to claim victory in Semi-Final 1 and progress to the Desert X Prix Final, with Rosberg X Racing (RXR) joining them in today’s Final after XITE Energy Racing received a post-race 10-second time penalty and dropped to third.In a dramatic fi more >>
X44 remain unbeaten in Qualifying as they take the top spot in NEOM
X44 continued their 100% qualifying record in Extreme E todayAfter finishing a close second in Qualifying 1, Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez dominated their Heat in Qualifying 2 to top the overall Qualifying standings ahead of Finals day. more >>
Rosberg X Racing set qualifying pace in dramatic Desert X Prix opening session
Rosberg X Racing (RXR) set the pace in the first qualifying session of Extreme E Season 2 in NEOM, Saudi Arabia, in an action-packed Qualifying 1 which was disrupted by a red flag following a crash for Veloce Racing’s Christine GZ.Inaugural Extreme more >>
X44 set the early pace ahead of Extreme E Season 2 opener in NEOM
Extreme E Season 2 ‘The Race For the Planet’ got underway today as the ten teams and 20 world-class drivers took to the course for their first taste of the Desert X Prix, in NEOM, Saudi Arabia.The 6.9-kilometre course in NEOM provides a new set more >>
Extreme E reveals first hydrogen off-road racing Championship
•    Extreme E plans to launch global hydrogen Championship in 2024 called Extreme H   •    Extreme H will race in the same locations as Extreme E, on the same days with the same sporting format. more >>
Veloce Racing primed and ready for new Extreme E campaign
Christine GZ and Lance Woolridge set for season-opener in Saudi Arabia  The second season of Extreme E gets underway in Neom, Saudi Arabia, this weekend (19-20 February) with Veloce Racing primed and ready for action in the off-road all-electric racing more >>
Extreme E reveals breathtaking Desert X Prix course to launch Season 2
With the Desert X Prix in NEOM, Saudi Arabia, just days away, the Championship is pleased to reveal another exciting course bringing the 10 teams and 20 world-class drivers a new set of challenges for the Season 2 opener.The 6.9km course in more >>
Jutta and Nasser, the ABT CUPRA XE team, face to face: "We have the experience of winning the Dakar Rally 5 times"
    ABT CUPRA XE team drivers Jutta Kleinschmidt and Nasser Al-Attiyah meet for the first time in a one-to-one interview in their new car       For the German driver and engineer with a passion for racin more >>
The 10 teams and 20 drivers for the Desert X Prix are as follows
DESERT X-PRIXSaudi Arabia, Neom18-20 February 2022      •    ABT CUPRA XE – Nasser Al-Attiyah / Jutta Kleinschmidt  •    ACCIONA | more >>
Desert X Prix Schedule and Livestreaming
DESERT X-PRIXSaudi Arabia, Neom18-20 February 2022All times GMTFriday 18 February1100 – 1400      Free practice 1330 – 1430      more >>
Desert X-Prix Full sporting format and points
DESERT X-PRIXSaudi Arabia, Neom18-20 February 2022Full sporting format and points as follows:Saturday morningQualifying 1 Heats 1 and 2: each 5 cars over 2 laps with a SwitchNB Positi more >>
Scene set for Saudi spectacular as Extreme E Season 2 is set to get underway
Building on the success of its debut year in 2021, Extreme E Season 2 ‘The Race For the Planet’ promises to captivate on and off track on a whole new level, whilst delivering on its overall purpose to tackle climate change through sport, starting with the Desert X Prix in NEOM, Saudi Arabia, this weekend (19-20 February). more >>
JBXE announces Molly Taylor as Kevin Hansen's teammate for Race 1 of the Season 2 Championship challenge
JBXE has today announced that 2021 Extreme E Championship winner Molly Taylor will join Season 1 driver Kevin Hansen for Race 1 of Extreme E Season 2. Taylor brings invaluable expertise after claiming the Extreme E title with Rosberg X Racing (RXR) more >>
XITE Energy Racing announces new driver line-up for Extreme E Season 2
XITE Energy Racing has announced that Oliver Bennett will return to Extreme E for Season 2 alongside Swedish debutant Klara Andersson.XITE Energy Racing will be looking to build on the lessons learned in Season 1 at the first X Prix of 2022 next week more >>
Carlos Sainz Sr. and Laia Sanz continue with ACCIONA Sainz XE Team for Extreme E Season 2
Sainz XE Team have retained their driver line-up for the forthcoming campaign, with Carlos Sainz Sr. and Laia Sanz back behind the wheel for Extreme E Season 2. Sainz Sr. and Sanz were part of a hotly contested ina more >>
Extreme E calendar 2022 reminder
Season 2 Calendar: Round 1: Neom, Saudi Arabia19-20 February 2022Round 2: Sardinia, Italy07-08 May 2022Round 3: Scotland or Senegal09-10 July 2022Round 4: Antofagasta, Chile10-11 September more >>
Chip Ganassi Racing retains Kyle LeDuc and Sara Price for Extreme E Season 2
Chip Ganassi Racing has today announced that it will retain its Season 1 drivers, Kyle LeDuc and Sara Price, for Extreme E’s second season.With experienced off-road racers Price and LeDuc once again at the wheel for Chip Ganassi Racing, many wil more >>
Dakar legends team up for ABT CUPRA XE’s Extreme E Season 2 title challenge
ABT CUPRA XE have partnered two Dakar Rally legends for Extreme E Season 2, with four-time winner Nasser Al-Attiyah joining 2001 winner Jutta Kleinschmidt for the team’s bid for Championship glory.Kleinschmidt, who partnered Mattias Ekström for four eve more >>
Extreme E's flagship the St. Helena arrives in Saudi Arabia ahead of Season 2
Extreme E’s floating centrepiece, the St. Helena, has arrived in Saudi Arabia in preparation for the Championship’s first event of its second season in NEOM – the Desert X Prix - on 19-20 February 2022.The cars and series’ equ more >>
Extreme E and AFC Energy extend pioneering partnership into Season 2
Extreme E is delighted to announce it is teaming up once again with AFC Energy for Season 2, where it will be using it’s zero-emission fuel cell and pioneering hydrogen power generation technology.In a world-first, Ext more >>
Two legendary drivers for 2022 ABT CUPRA XE team to be unveiled at hybrid event - livestream
    The duo, who have multiple Dakar wins between them, will be announced at the event held at CUPRA Headquarters and broadcast simultaneously online    CUPRA to also show its new all-electric off-road vehicle CUPRA Tavascan XE, designed to reflect CUPRA's DNA and take on the challenge of the new Extreme E season&nb more >>
NEOM set to host Extreme E for Season 2 opener
s Extreme E continues to draw breath after a climactic end to Season 1, plans are well underway for the Season 2 opener, which begins in the deserts of NEOM, Saudi Arabia's giga-project featuring cognitive cities and a premier visitor destination and inspirational location for all adventure sports, with its expansive red sands, spectacular sandstone formations and historic wall art from civilis more >>
X44 retains Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez for Championship challenge in Extreme E Season 2
Extreme E Season 1 runners-up X44 have retained their driver line-up for the forthcoming campaign, with Sébastien Loeb and Cristina Gutiérrez back behind the wheel for the team founded by Seven-Time Formula 1™ World Champion Sir Lewis Hamilton. more >>
Extreme E awarded Motorsport UK’s Environmental Award
Motorsport UK is pleased to announce Extreme E, the new radical off-road racing series founded by Alejandro Agag, as the recipient of its 2022 Environmental Award.  Extreme E was announced as the recipient at Motorsport UK’s Nigh more >>
Extreme E Season 2 just one month away
With the dust only just settling from the first season of Extreme E, it is now one month to go until Extreme E’s sport for purpose campaign returns with fresh faces, a major new team, and a new continent to visit, but with the same amount of thrilling wheel-to-wheel on track action being showcased across the toughest terrains on the planet. more >>
X44 crowned inaugural winners of Extreme E Sustainability Award
X44 have become the first winners of the Extreme E Sustainability Award after topping the standings in the series’ inaugural Count Us In Challenge aimed at tackling the climate crisis.Extreme E and Count Us In joined forces more >>
Lance Woolridge completes Veloce Racing 2022 Extreme E line-up
South African off-road specialist earns full season drive following Dorset masterclass Veloce Racing has completed its 2022 Extreme E driver line-up today (Thursday, 13 January) as the returning Lance Woolridge becomes the team’s latest signing for th more >>
Veloce Racing announces Christine Giampaoli Zonca for 2022 season
Veloce Racing has announced Christine Giampaoli Zonca – or Christine GZ as she is otherwise known – will race for the team in the 2022 season of Extreme E.A brilliant second-place finish in Senegal behind eventual champions RXR w more >>
Four ways Extreme E achieved results off the course in Dorset
  Extreme E completed its inaugural season with Rosberg X Racing taking victory in the Jurassic X Prix season finale in Dorset. Significant achievements were also made away from the course, focussing on both sustainability and equality, two of the driving fact more >>


2001-2023 automobilsport.com full copyright