Climate change causes a significant rise in glacial melting, and this indirectly triggers wildfires, said a Turkish academic, Anadolu Agency reports.
The increasing melting of the polar glaciers, which prevent the world from overheating by reflecting about 80 per cent of the sunrays, is increasing the number and frequency of extreme weather events by affecting the hydro-meteorological balance, Murat Turkes, a member of the Board of Directors of Turkiye’s Bogazici University Climate Change and Policy Application and Research Centre, told Anadolu.
These weather events, which manifest themselves as an increase in temperatures, drought, changes in precipitation regime and harder-blowing winds, are important factors causing forest fires.
Turkes said the ice sphere, consisting of polar, continental glaciers, glacial shields and sea glaciers, as well as Alpine valley glaciers in high mountains, is one of the components that make up the climate system.
For the survival of the glaciers, it should snow, and there should be a climate that allows the snow to stay on the ground for a while and be located around the glacier on the mountains, he said.
“That’s where the problem comes,” Turkes stated, adding: “In the last 50 years, glaciers in many regions of the world have been shrinking in volume and area because the climate is warming, snowfall is decreasing, even if it snows, air temperatures are increasing because they are melting rapidly, and the glaciers are not being fed.”
Describing the situation Turkiye has been witnessing lately, he stressed: “If the glaciers continue to melt at this rate, the poles will warm up over the next century, and a world in which they completely melt will be perhaps 10 degrees Celsius (50 Fahrenheit) ) warmer than today.”
“This means that tropical, very hot, very dry conditions” would take the stage in the country, he emphasised.
Emphasising that temperature and drought lead to a serious crisis in agriculture, a rapid decline in agricultural yield, a decrease in water resources and an expansion of forest fires in terms of area and period, Turkes warned that the wildfire risk will extend from mid-spring to mid-autumn for a longer period, and the risk of major fires will also increase.
“While forests are carbon sinks, carbon dioxide is also emitted into the atmosphere when burned,” he explained, noting: “In addition, the loss of forests means a decrease in water resources.”
In a world where it is warmer, evaporation is rapid and at large rates, leading to floods and landslides, he said.
“If climate change is not prevented, the negative situations observed today will accelerate and we will start experiencing the bad scenario before the end of the century,” he warned.
Risk of drought
Yusuf Serengil, member of Turkiye’s Istanbul University-Cerrahpasa Faculty of Forestry’s Forest Engineering Department, told Anadolu that, although the polar glaciers do not have a direct impact on forest fires, they do have an impact on the seasons.
He pointed out that evaporation has also increased as the temperature has increased, saying: “For this reason, there is a dry period.”
“Drought is a comparison of evaporation and temperature, and the critical thing here is the increase in evaporation, which is an extra source of stress,” he stated, mentioning: “Rising temperatures in summer mean not only forest fires, but also the drying up of our streams.”
He drew attention to the fact that climate change is a critical factor in forest fires, underscoring: “The fire season starts at the end of May and goes on until the end of September in Turkiye.”
“The warmer winter months extend the fire season till October.”
Serengil stated that, with the melting of the polar glaciers, more water enters the environmental system, and the system accelerates with more energy from the sun, causing heavy rains in a shorter time.
“I expect a very serious drought in Turkiye in the next 10 years,” he asserted.