Wildfires Are Raging in the Amazon, Adding to Widespread Global Blazes

Wildfires in the Brazilian Amazon, as seen from space, on August 13.

Wildfires in the Brazilian Amazon, as seen from space, on August 13. NASA

Wildfires are burning in the Brazil’s Amazon rainforest at their highest rate in years, according to new research. Started by loggers and farmers clearing the land, 39,194 fires have been detected in the rainforest so far this year, a 77 percent increase from the same period in 2018, according to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE).

The blazes are so large and intense that their smoke has wafted thousands of miles to the Atlantic Coast, blackening São Paulo’s skies mid-day earlier this week. Far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has made an increase in logging, farming, and mining in the Amazon a key priority for his administration since taking office in January. INPE announced that the amount of land deforested last month was nearly three times the amount lost in June 2018, NPR reported.

The Caribou Lake Fire in Alaska on August 20.

The Caribou Lake Fire in Alaska on August 20. Jay Walter/Alaska Division of Forestry

The fires in Brazil are just one of dozens of regions across the globe currently battling wildfires. At least 54 large blazes are actively burning in 13 U.S. states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Drought-stricken Alaska tops the list with 10 fires, including the McKinley Fire in the southcentral part of the state, which has destroyed at least 80 structures so far and threatens 1,000 more, CNN reported. More than 21,000 square miles of forest have burned in Siberia this month, according to Vox. A wildfire on the Canary Islands forced more than 8,000 people to evacuate this week. And Denmark sent firefighters to Greenland this month to battle a blaze that had been burning since July.

Scientists recently announced that July was the hottest month on record on Earth, measuring 1.71 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average. “In these conditions, it is easier for wildfires to grow and to be more long-lived,” Mark Parrington, a senior scientist in the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service at the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, told USA Today.