The largest wildfire ever recorded in Greenland was recently spotted close to the west coast town of Sisimiut, not far from Disko Island where I research retreating glaciers. The fire has captured public and scientific interest not just because its size and location came as a surprise, but also because it is yet another signpost of deep environmental change in the Arctic.
Forests in Canada are ablaze, with 2.2 million acres going up in flames so far this year in British Columbia alone. These fires, and others in the Yukon and Northwest Territories, have been belching smoke into the air, in some cases up to 8 miles high.
Like never before, regions we typically associate with cold and ice are being over-run by wildfires. It’s a situation brought on by human-caused climate change. For our continued burning of fossil fuels is causing the Arctic to warm twice as fast as the rest of the globe. Under this oppressive influx of heat, the permafrost is thawing. And the fragile plants, frozen lands, and soils dependent on much cooler conditions simply cannot cope. Increasingly, and on greater and greater scales, they are burning.
(Large Greenland fire captured by NASA’s Earth Observatory on August 7th.)
The July average temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 75.7°F, 2.1°F above the 20th century average and was the 10th warmest July in 123 years of record-keeping. Much-above-average temperatures were observed across the West and parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. The year-to-date (January–July) average temperature for the contiguous U.S.
On Monday, The New York Times published a leaked climate report by scientists from 13 federal agencies that shows, unequivocally, that the earth is warming, the consequences will be severe, if not apocalyptic, and humans are the cause of it. None of this is news to anyone who pays attention to what's happening on Planet Earth.
WASHINGTON — The average temperature in the United States has risen rapidly and drastically since 1980, and recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years, according to a sweeping federal climate change report awaiting approval by the Trump administration.