Sep 21, 2023 - Energy & Environment

Canada's awful summer gives way to a burning fall

A massive wildfire smoke plume emitted by Alberta wildfires swirls above the Arctic Sept. 16. Image: EU, Copernicus Sentinel-3.

Just days away from summer's end, Canada's worst wildfire season on record isn't letting up.

Why it matters: The fires have forced thousands of people to flee their homes and likely caused billions of dollars in damages and economic losses.

Threat level: The fires have released hundreds of megatonnes of carbon dioxide that will contribute to global warming, which made the blazes more likely and intense to begin with.

  • Wildfire smoke, as pictured above, has repeatedly degraded air quality in cities across North America, even at times crossing the Atlantic Ocean to affect European skies.

By the numbers: Over 900 fires were burning across Canada on Wednesday, including more than 500 that were out of control.

  • So far, over 6,300 fires have burned an estimated 43.4 million acres — an area almost the size of Oklahoma.

State of play: Fire seasons typically taper off and are mostly over by the end of October, but Canadian officials say this year is unprecedented.

The big picture: The U.S. has had a below-average season in terms of acreage burned, but the number of fires it has had is mostly in line with 10-year averages.

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