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What are the Zombie fires? What causes the Zombie fires?

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By Srirangam Sriram, Sriram's IAS, New Delhi.
Career Guidance
A zombie fire is a fire that continues to burn underground and then reignites on the surface after a period of time. Embers deep in organic soils such as peatlands can spark into flames weeks, months and even years later. Scientists monitoring Alaska have seen a similar phenomenon. Since 2005, scientists on the ground in Alaska have identified 39 such "holdover fires", as they are also called.

What has caused the Zombie fires?
  1. There has been tremendous warmth in the Arctic that has led to a lot of drying, making the peat soils ripe to burn.
  2. Last year's massive blazes were fuelled by record heat. Parts of Siberia and Alaska were up to 10 degrees Celsius warmer than normal for weeks at a time.
  3. In June 2019 - the hottest on record, going back 150 years - the blazes are estimated to have released 50 million tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere, equivalent to Sweden's annual emissions.
  4. Fire managers have noted increasing occurrences where fires survive the cold and wet boreal winter months by smoldering and re-emerged in the subsequent spring.
  5. The cumulative effect of last year's fire season in the Arctic may feed into the upcoming season and could lead to large-scale and long-term fires across the same region once again.
  6. The risk of wildfires increases with hot weather and low humidity, and Europe, in particular, has seen record temperatures for March and April this year.
Career Guidance
Published on 11/9/2020 12:17:00 PM
Zombie fires