The Arctic's On Fire (You Can Even See It From Space). It Will Get Worse.


E.A. Crunden


Not good.

The Arctic's On Fire (You Can Even See It From Space). It Will Get Worse.

Europe's historic heat wave is heading north this weekend, to the relief of the continent, but its path will send it right towards the Arctic - where it could speed up the melting of sea ice and coincide with devastating wildfires.

Unprecedented wildfires are currently raging across the Arctic Circle, with some the size of 100,000 football fields - so big they can be seen from space. Arctic sea ice is moreover already running at a record low this year; scientists worry a heat wave will only further exacerbate the area's problems.

One week after the United States saw record-shattering high temperatures, the same fate befell Europe. On Thursday, Paris saw temperatures of 108.7 degrees Fahrenheit (42.6 degrees Celsius), a record high, with Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands also facing their own record days. The sweltering weather is the result of a heat dome that has allowed hot air to come north from the Sahara Desert, all while blocking cooler air from reaching people.

July is typically a warm month in much of the northern hemisphere, but climate scientists have connected the uptick in dangerously hot temperatures to global warming, with future years set to be much worse.

Scorching temperatures can be deadly for children, the elderly, and people with disabilities, in addition to anyone without access to cooling systems. In Europe, where air-conditioning is less common than the United States, many residents faced grueling heat without an easy mechanism for cooling off. London, for example, does not have air conditioning in its crowded subway system.

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