Wave of forest fires in Northern Europe

Wave of forest fires in Northern EuropeFirefighters, photo: pixabay

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In the past week there have been forest fires in several places in Northern Europe, more extensive than usual at this time of year according to an EU agency.

In recent weeks there have been forest fires in the UK, Sweden, Germany, and Norway.

According to a spokesperson for the EU forest fire monitoring body (Effis), the number of forest fires in Europe this year has been “far above the average” for this time of year.

“This year it has been much worse than the past ten years” Effis told BBC news.

According to the EU body, the fires are caused by a “very dry winter in much of Europe”. The situation does not seem to show signs of improvement in the future from the long-term forecasts.

In Norway, there is now a great danger of grass and heather fires in almost the whole country south of Helgeland. This past week there have been several large fires, most recently in Sokndal in Rogaland.

Dead vegetation is highly inflammable

However, grass and heather fire hazards in the spring are not uncommon in Norway according to the watchdog meteorologist, Marit Berger.

‘’You often get a great deal of grass and heather fire in the spring. The dead vegetation from last year dries very quickly and sets alight easily’’ said Berger to NTB news.

Last summer, a total of 2,097 forest fires were registered in Norway, twice as many as in 2017 and 2016. At most, over 100 forest fires burned at the same time, and NVE warned that Norway must prepare for more severe drought periods and more forest fires.

Extra dry

The meteorologist believes that the dry summer last year may have contributed to extra dry conditions this spring.

‘’The summer last year was quite dry and special. So it may have caused extra dry conditions, and last year’s dead vegetation is extra flammable. It is not often that you have such long periods of drought in the spring as we have had this year” said Berger.

According to figures from Wednesday, in April, there was a total of 0.1 millimeters of rain in Oslo, 0.4 millimeters in Stavanger, 2.1 millimeters in Bergen, and 4 millimeters on Værnes. By comparison, 90 millimeters of rainfall were measured in Tromsø during the same period.

Usually, the risk of grass and heather fires tend to diminish when plants and grasses germinate, and during precipitation periods with more rainfall.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today

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