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NASA: Wildfire smoke reaches North Pole for 1st time in recorded history

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Posted at 12:34 PM, Aug 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-10 15:40:00-04

Wildfire smoke has reached the North Pole for the first time in recorded history, according to NASA.

The U.S. space agency says the smoke is from hundreds of wildfires burning in Russia, specifically in the country’s Siberian region.

“This week, wildfire smoke has traveled more than 3,000 km (1,864 mi) from Yakutia to reach the North Pole, a feat that appears to be a first in recorded history,” NASA wrote Saturday.

NASA shared a photo taken by a satellite on Friday that shows smoke obscuring most of the Russian land below, about 2,000 miles from east to west and 2,500 miles from south to north.

The smoke also reportedly reached other countries, like Mongolia, Canada, and Greenland.

NASA says the exact amount of forest burnt so far this year across Russia is difficult to determine, but estimates show the emissions since June total more than 505 megatons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

“The 2020 fire season was very severe, but the estimated total carbon dioxide equivalent came to 450 megatons for the entire season,” wrote NASA.

Russia Wildfires
FILE - In this file photo taken on Monday, Aug. 2, 2021, Smoke from forest fires is seen over small town of Kysyl-Syr, Vilyuysky District, Sakha Republic also known as Yakutia, Russia Far East. (AP Photo/Nikolay Petrov, File)

NASA says the Sakha Republic of Russia has recorded some of the coldest temperatures on Earth but record-high temperatures for the region were set this past winter.

Russia is far from the only country that has experienced record heat. The United States has as well, especially in the West, where wildfires have already destroyed communities this year. Many scientists believe the increased drought conditions and subsequent fires are at least partly a result of climate change.

On Monday, a report was released that says Earth’s climate is getting so hot that temperatures in about a decade will probably blow past a level of warming that world leaders have sought to prevent.