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These NASA images show Siberia burning up

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Siberian wildfire season is off and running with multiple blazes searing the boreal forest and tundra. It’s the latest example of the vast shifts happening to the forests that cover Siberia and the rest of the northern tier of the world as climate change alters the landscape.

This article was originally published at Climate Central

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Those forests are burning at a rate unheard of in at least 10,000 years due largely to rising temperatures. They contain vast reserves of carbon stored in trees and soil and when they burn, they send that carbon into the atmosphere. That creates a dangerous cycle of more severe wildfires and ever rising temperatures.

A satellite image captured on June 23, 2017 shows the extent of wildfires burning across Siberia. (Credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

The current constellation of conflagrations had burned through roughly 133,000 acres to the west of Lake Baikal in southern Siberia as of last week. Strong winds have sent smoke spiraling hundreds of miles northeast, impacting air quality across the region.

NASA’s satellites captured the scene on Friday from a few different vantage points. The Aqua satellite captured the extent of the thick plumes of smoke and fires dotting the region while the Suomi NPP satellite was able to analyze the air quality. Both show the stunning breadth of impacts wildfires can have. The Suomi NPP measurements in particular show that the aerosol index — a measure of air quality — hit 19, a mark that denotes very dense smoke.

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According to NASA Earth Observatory, scientists are also investigating signs that the fires were burning so intensely, they altered the local weather. There’s evidence pyrocumulus clouds formed, a phenomenon that occurs when wildfires burn so hot that they cause localized convection that eventually forms clouds.

The region where fires are burning has been a hot spot on the global temperature map. Since November, temperatures have been up to 7°F above average with some months far exceeding that mark. Climate change has been driving up temperatures around the world, but the northern tier of the planet has seen temperatures rise twice as fast.

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Temperatures in Siberia were up 7.2°F above normal from November 2016-April 2017.
(Credit: NASA)

The extra heat has caused a string of severe wildfire seasons not just in Siberia, but in other stretches of the boreal forest that also covers Canada and Alaska. Last year, a massive blaze overran Fort McMurray, Alberta and became the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history. The year prior, Alaska had an explosive early start to its wildfire season. This is the third year in a row massive fires have lit up Siberia.

These individual events are part of a new reality that the boreal forest is burning at a rate unprecedented in modern history. Large fires in Alaska are twice as common as they were 75 years ago, according to Climate Central’s own research. That same report found that Alaskan wildfire season is 40 percent longer as well. Similar changes have been observed in Canada as well.

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Climate change is expected to continue driving conditions that make destructive fires more common in boreal forests. That will reshape some of the most unique ecosystems on earth and the climate system itself. Boreal forests store about 30 percent of the world’s carbon. When they burn, they put that carbon in the atmosphere, increasing the impacts of climate change and creating a vicious cycle that will likely lead to more fires.

By Brian Kahn, Climate Central

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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‘I’m the one who calls the shots’: Trump rails against Fox News for giving him ‘his worst polls’

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President Donald Trump explained why Fox News has drawn his ire and that they need to realize he's the one in control of them.

In a conversation on the tarmac in Morristown, New Jersey on his way back to Washington, Trump said that Fox News has not been good to him lately.

"Fox is a lot different than it used to be, I can tell you that," Trump said.

In an earlier Twitter rant, the president went off on Juan Williams for being "nasty and wrong."

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President Donald Trump reaffirmed his desire to buy Greenland in discussion with reporters Sunday.

The president was returning to Washington, D.C. when he stopped at the airport in Morristown, New Jersey. New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman asked the president about his desire to buy the country from Denmark.

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‘They love the meanest parts of him’: Conservative writer explains why evangelical Christians stick with Trump

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Ben Howe, a conservative writer and evangelical Christian who refuses to support Donald Trump, explained why fellow evangelicals continue to back the president despite his decidedly ungodly behavior.

Speaking with the Atlantic’s Emma Green about his new book The Immoral Majority, Howe — whose evangelical bona fides include attending pastor Jerry Falwell’s church as a kid — described evangelicals’ support for Trump, insisting “they love the meanest parts of him.”

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