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Data: Copernicus/CAMS via Mark Parrington; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The widespread wildfires that stretched across the Northern Hemisphere this summer set records for their carbon dioxide emissions, particularly in Siberia, according to data released Tuesday.

Why it matters: The severe fire season in Siberia is tied in part to unusually warm conditions with low soil moisture, which studies have linked to human-caused climate change.

How it works: The wildfire season across the boreal forests of the Far North typically stretches from May to October.

  • During the June through August period, wildfires in the Sakha region of northeastern Siberia emitted enough carbon dioxide to rival the annual emissions from Germany in 2019, according to the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) and data from The Rhodium Group.
  • August set a monthly record for wildfire emissions coming from the Northern Hemisphere, and Siberian emissions were more than twice the total from the June through August timeframe last year, CAMS' satellite data shows.

Threat level: As the climate warms due to human emissions of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel burning, extreme wildfire years are expected to become more common and burn in ecosystems where they were previously uncommon.

  • If fires burn intensely in regions with permanently frozen soil known as permafrost, it could free up currently frozen organic matter locked away for centuries or longer, emitting carbon dioxide and methane.

What we're watching: Wildfire season is not over yet in the western U.S. Southern California, for example, tends to see its worst wildfire weather days in October into November.

  • This summer's California wildfires, dominated by the nearly 1 million-acre Dixie Fire, already sent twice the amount of CO2 into the air compared to 2020, also a severe wildfire season.

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Nov 22, 2021 - Energy & Environment

U.S. fuel economy hits record high but falls short of policymakers' hopes

Data: EPA; Chart: Axios Visuals

New EPA data on U.S. vehicle fuel economy paints a mixed picture, showing record average efficiency in model year 2020 that's nonetheless far short of what policymakers hope to see ahead.

Driving the news: The annual report shows that average overall fuel economy for cars, SUVs and light trucks sold in the U.S. reached 25.4 miles per gallon (mpg) in model year 2020 in real-world conditions, a 0.5 mpg increase over 2019.

1 hour ago - Health

WHO: Not yet known whether Omicron leads to more severe disease

Photo illustration: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The World Health Organization on Sunday said that it is not yet clear whether the newly discovered Omicron variant is more transmissible than other strains of the COVID-19 virus.

Why it matters: The agency's statement comes as the variant, discovered in South Africa, has already been detected in European and Asian countries.

7 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in U.S.

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Sunday that the COVID-19 Omicron variant will "inevitably" be found in the United States.

Driving the news: Fauci, Biden's chief medical adviser, told ABC's George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" that U.S. officials will meet with colleagues from South Africa later on Sunday to try to determine the severity of the cases, as countries scramble to learn more about the variant.