Ever heard of zombie fires? This could be the next threat we face as a civilization battling the catastrophic effects of climate change. Forest fires have become extremely regular in recent years. Regular reports from different parts of the world including Australia, the US and the Amazon rainforest in South America.
The most dangerous threat, however, lies in the boreal forests in the far north of planet Earth. In these areas, climate changes cause more warming than elsewhere.
And that’s not even the worst. Apparently, many forest fires have developed the ability to re-spawn. It turns out that the “zombie forest fires” in the upper north will come back to life in the spring after they seem to have subsided due to winter snow. As soon as the snow retreats, the fires come back to life.
Scientists from the Netherlands and Alaska have now found ways to predict the scale and dangers of such “zombie fires” that now burn year-round.
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Between 2002 and 2018, about one percent of the burns in Alaska and northwestern Canada survived the winters and extended well into next year, Reuters reported for the first time.
The study published in Nature on Wednesday found that “zombie fires” now account for more than 38 percent of all burns in the region. Such “zombie fires” are becoming more common as climate change drives the areas into drought and causes devastating fires.
The extent of the damage caused by these fires was calculated by scientists using a computer algorithm that took into account several variables, including satellite imagery, human presence and infrastructure, and records of lightning strikes.
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The algorithm showed that 0.8 percent of the land in Alaska and northwestern Canada had been burned in the past 20 years. However, it is not easy for fires to survive the cold winter conditions. They have to be wildly hot and inflamed to keep burning beneath the layers of snow. The “zombie fires” show how quickly climate change is damaging the region.