You may have missed the memo (we get it, there's been a lot going on) but the world is currently on fire as massive blazes burn in the United States, Canada, and across Europe. To give you a sense of the scale of the inferno, we've included maps of the wildfires, as well as images from some of the fiery scenes. Here, is the lowdown.
Despite urgent conditions, funding for the nation's six Regional Climate Centers (RCCs) which provide data that we use to help control and prevent wildfires is on the chopping block. The President's proposed budget would slash the Centers' budgets by 82%, from $3.65 million to $650,000.
The Centers were originally developed in the 1980s with bipartisan support because of the service and expertise they provide as data collectors, analyzers and subject matter experts. If they're eliminated, “We'' would of a lot of fundamental climate services,” Tim Brown Research Professor Climatology Director Western Regional Climate Center told PopSci. “That includes information for decision makers for drought, fires and floods, and impacts, on transportation and human health, water supplies, energy and disaster management planning, all of these areas the regional climate center program supports.”
On a more concrete level this includes banal information, such as yesterday's temperature high and low—that's Regional Climate Center Data. More critically, if we're talking fires, this also means the loss of Western Based US Drought Monitoring Author which adds to the weekly drought map that government uses to allocate drought relief as well as an early drought warning system—i.e. the conditions which can precede wildfires.
Across the border from the United States, fires are also currently scorching Canada's British Columbia. This is the province's second worst fire season on record and NASA satellites have identified the conflagration from space. It's unsurprising that the smoke is billowing over the border into nearby Seattle in Washington state which is also under a heat advisory. On Thursday, the city hit a record breaking 94 degrees at the Seattle Tacoma airport. The regular high for the region at this time of year is 77 degrees. Between the heat and the fact that the region has been, according to US Drought Monitor is unnaturally dry that wildfires are knocking on their door is unsurprising.
On the other side of the globe, if you load up the European Commission's fire map, it looks like the end of the world, especially in Italy and Romania. So far, an area just slightly smaller than the state of Rhode Island has burned. The total is already roughly three times the normal amount of summer wildfires. Back in June, 60 people died over the course of one weekend in Portugal due to wildfires. Thirty people were killed when the fires reached roads on evacuation routes. And as the map makes clear, those fires don't seem to be abating.
Wildfires are also plaguing Sibera in Russia, an image NASA has managed to capture on satellite footage, along with large swathes of Brazil.
According to European news reports, researchers are saying that climate change is to blame, as warmer temperatures have extended the regions fire season, potentially making weather like this increasingly the region's new normal.
Back in the United States, some of the fires will continue to blaze until at least October, based on data in the Incident Information System.
As for Australia, don't worry - our time will come soon enough.