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‘Zombie Fires’ Burning At An Alarming Rate In Canada

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Even in the depths of Canada’s winter, the embers of last year’s record-breaking wildfire season persist. So-called zombie fires are burning at an unprecedented rate beneath thick layers of snow, increasing concerns about what the upcoming summer will bring.

In winter, people driving on the highway through Fort Nelson, British Columbia (BC), can see and smell the clouds of white smoke rising from the land around them.

Sonja Leverkus, a firefighter and scientist from the small north-eastern British Columbia hamlet, remembers travelling during a snowstorm in November, but the snow didn’t seem white.

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‘Zombie Fires’ Burning At An Alarming Rate In Canada

Instead, she described it as blueish-grey due to the smoke in the air.

“I’ve never experienced a snowstorm that smelled like smoke,” said Ms. Leverkus, who has lived in northern British Columbia for over 15 years.

She said these plumes remained visible into February, even on extremely cold days when temperatures dropped to -40C (-40F).

‘Zombie Fires’ sparks record. Arctic carbon emissions

Zombie fires cause the Fort Nelson smoke, sometimes known as overwintering fires.

They are flameless smoulders that burn slowly beneath the surface and are kept alive by an organic soil known as peat moss found in North America’s boreal forests and heavy layers of snow that protect them from the cold.

These flames are not uncommon. Experts estimate that during the last ten years, British Columbia has witnessed an average of five or six that continue to burn over the cold months.

However, in January, the province experienced a historic peak of 106 active zombie fires, raising concerns among fire experts about the implications for the following wildfire season.

Most go out on their own before spring, but 91 are still burning in British Columbia, according to government data, and those that have not been extinguished by March may re-ignite as the snow melts and they are exposed to air.

As a result, scientists have linked them to the early onset of wildfire seasons.

The nearby province of Alberta is also experiencing an increase in these winter fires, with 57 burning as of early February, roughly ten times the five-year normal.

Jennifer Baltzer, a biology professor at Wilfrid Laurier University and the Canada Research Chair in Forests and Global Change, said, “This continued smouldering through the winter, I think, is very alarming to see,” especially after last year’s record-breaking wildfire season.

Wildfires in Canada burned about 18 million hectares (44 million acres) of land in 2023, an area roughly the size of Cambodia, greatly exceeding the country’s 10-year average.

The season was one of the worst in recent history, with several firemen killed in the line of duty.
Thousands of people were displaced from their homes, and the impact extended far beyond Canada’s borders when smoke blanketed most of the United States in June.

According to Mike Flannigan, a professor and fire control expert at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, BC, the devastating wildfire season is one of the reasons for the current high number of zombie fires.

The majority of them are fires that could not be completely extinguished by last autumn due to a shortage of resources, he explained.

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‘Zombie Fires’ Burning At An Alarming Rate In Canada

By the end of the year, officials had recorded more than 2,200 wildfires in British Columbia.
Prof Flannigan also cited the province’s catastrophic drought over the last two years.

According to the province’s drought map, the majority of British Columbia was experiencing moderate to severe drought as of February.

According to Ms Leverkus, the dryness has been as noticeable as the zombie fires.
She noted in the forest last summer that a brook that used to run freely had become “just puddles”.

These drought conditions persisted throughout the winter. The province has received so little snow that one ski resort in BC’s South Cariboo region was forced to close for the rest of the season in early January.

Zombie fires were historically rare, but scientists claim they have become increasingly common in recent years due to a fast-warming environment.

According to Forrest Tower, a fire information officer with BC Fire, officials are now watching them.

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‘Zombie Fires’ Burning At An Alarming Rate In Canada

He stated that many cannot be extinguished manually because most of the province’s firefighting force is on leave for the off-season. They do not constitute a threat currently, he stated.

However, the primary concern is that the flames may re-ignite if British Columbia receives little snow or rain this spring.

If this occurs, he stated that the province’s seasonal firefighting force might be activated as soon as March or April.

Prof Flannigan stated that it is too early to forecast exactly what the forthcoming fire season will look like in British Columbia, but what the province has witnessed thus far “is quite unusual”.
P

rof Flannigan stated that “the stage is set for a very active spring” because this is an El Nino year, which means hot and dry weather in western Canada.

SOURCE – (BBC)

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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Ukraine Claims It Shot Down A Russian Strategic Bomber As Moscow’s Missiles Kill 8 Ukrainians

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Kiev, Ukraine — Ukraine’s air force claimed on Friday that it shot down a Russian strategic bomber, but Moscow officials said the plane landed in a sparsely populated area due to a malfunction following a combat mission.

Neither of the claims could be independently verified. Previous Ukrainian claims of shooting down Russian jets throughout the more than two-year conflict were met with silence or denials from Moscow.

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Ukraine Claims It Shot Down A Russian Strategic Bomber As Moscow’s Missiles Kill 8 Ukrainians

Meanwhile, Russian missiles attacked cities in Ukraine’s central Dnipro area, killing eight people, including a 14-year-old girl and an eight-year-old boy, and wounded 28, according to local officials.

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reiterated Kyiv authorities’ almost daily calls for more Western air defense systems, citing a similarity to how Israel countered a recent Iranian attack.

Missile and drone assaults can be prevented, he said on social media site X: “This has been demonstrated in the skies over the Middle East, and it should also work in Europe.”

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated, “Children must not be killed in airstrikes in modern Europe.”

Russia’s air force is far more powerful than Ukraine’s, but sophisticated missile systems supplied by Kyiv’s Western allies pose a significant threat to Russian aviation as the Kremlin’s forces slowly advance along the approximately 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) front line in what has become a grinding war of attrition. Ukrainian officials say they expect a strong Russian onslaught this summer.

Ukraine says the air force and military intelligence worked together to shoot down the Tu-22M3 bomber using anti-aircraft missiles. Russia frequently utilizes the bomber to launch Kh-22 cruise missiles at Ukrainian targets from within its own airspace. The plane can also transport nuclear warheads.

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Ukraine Claims It Shot Down A Russian Strategic Bomber As Moscow’s Missiles Kill 8 Ukrainians

The Russian military ministry reported that the warplane crashed “in a deserted area” in the southern province of Stavropol, hundreds of kilometers (miles) from the Ukrainian border.

According to the ministry, three crew members were rescued after ejecting from the aircraft, while a fourth is still missing. However, Stavropol Governor Vladimir Vladimirov reported one of the rescued pilots died.

On Christmas Eve, Ukraine reported that it had shot down two Russian fighter jets. In January, the Ukrainian air force claimed to have shot down a Russian early warning and control plane as well as a crucial command center aircraft that feeds intelligence to ground troops, appearing to deal a serious blow to the Kremlin’s forces. The following month, Ukraine claimed it had shot down another early warning and control plane.

In January, Moscow accused Kyiv of shooting down a Russian military transport plane carrying Ukrainian POWs bound for a prisoner swap.

Russian forces launched a joint aerial attack overnight, using 22 different types of missiles and 14 Shahed drones, according to the Ukrainian air force. It stated that all of the drones and 15 missiles had been intercepted.

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Ukraine Claims It Shot Down A Russian Strategic Bomber As Moscow’s Missiles Kill 8 Ukrainians

Ukraine’s National Railway Operator reported that the attack targeted both metropolitan areas and train infrastructure in the Dnipro region. Employee Oksana Storozhenko, mother of two teenage sons, was among those slain in the strikes, according to reports.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Ukraine, Israel Aid Back On Track As House Pushes Toward Weekend Votes

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WASHINGTON – With rare bipartisan support, the House advanced Friday on a $95 billion foreign aid plan for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, and humanitarian aid, as a coalition of members helped it cross a procedural hurdle and reach final votes this weekend. Friday’s vote delivered an unusual outcome in the generally hyper-partisan House, with Democrats voting 316-94 in support of Republican Speaker Mike Johnson’s plan. The final House approval might come this weekend, when the package is delivered to the Senate.

It was a success for Speaker Mike Johnson’s strategy, which he put into action last week after agonizing over the legislation for two months. Nonetheless, Johnson has spent the past 24 hours making the rounds on conservative media, attempting to salvage support for wartime funding, particularly for Ukraine as it faces a critical moment in its battle with Russia, but also for his own job, as the restive right flank threatens to oust him over the effort.

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Ukraine, Israel Aid Back On Track As House Pushes Toward Weekend Votes

“There’s a lot of misinformation about what we’re doing here and why,” Johnson said to The Mark Levin Show’s conservative host.

“Ukrainians urgently require lethal aid right now. “We cannot allow Vladimir Putin to roll through another country and take it,” he stated of the Russian president’s invasion of Ukraine. “These are very serious matters with global implications.”

After months of delay, the House moved slowly but methodically this week after Johnson decided to move forward. President Joe Biden quickly endorsed the speaker’s plan, and Donald Trump, the Republican assumed presidential nominee who opposes most foreign aid to Ukraine, has not slowed the speaker’s progress.

“The world is watching what Congress does,” the White House stated. “Passing this legislation would send a powerful message about the strength of American leadership at a pivotal moment.”

In an extremely rare move, members of the House Rules Committee banded together late Thursday in a near-midnight vote, with four Democrats supporting a procedural step, to push the package past the Republican majority’s three hardline holdouts and send it to the House floor for debate, 9-3. It was a moment unlike any other in recent House history.

Johnson will need to rely on Democrats again on Friday to pass the next procedural vote and block Republican amendments that might kill the plan. One proposed by extreme Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene would cut Ukraine’s funding to zero.

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Ukraine, Israel Aid Back On Track As House Pushes Toward Weekend Votes

Greene has filed a “motion to vacate” the speaker from office, which has at least one Republican co-sponsor, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky. It may initiate a bid to oust Johnson from the speaker’s office if she calls it up for a vote, similar to how Republicans removed Kevin McCarthy from the job last November.

With one of the most slender House majorities in modern history, Johnson can only afford to lose one or two Republican votes to pass any legislation. That dynamic has pushed him into the arms of Democrats as he seeks votes to enact the legislation.

Johnson cannot tailor the plan as the ultra-conservatives seek without risking losing Democratic support. It has prompted him to abandon severe security measures to control migrants at the US-Mexico border, among other goals.

At best, Johnson has been able to divide a Senate-passed version of the bill into different portions, as House Republicans prefer, and the final votes will be on various measures — for Ukraine, Israel, and Indo-Pacific partners.

The plan would also include a fourth clause, which incorporates several Republican demands that Democrats support or are ready to accept. Proposals include allowing the United States to seize frozen Russian central bank assets to rebuild Ukraine, imposing sanctions on Iran, Russia, China, and fentanyl trafficking criminal organizations, and potentially banning the video app TikTok if its Chinese owner does not sell its stake within a year.

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Ukraine, Israel Aid Back On Track As House Pushes Toward Weekend Votes

Passing each package, which is set to be voted on Saturday, would require Johnson to establish intricate bipartisan coalitions, with Democrats assuring Ukraine funding is authorized but some left-leaning progressives refusing to support military aid for Israel due to the destruction of Gaza.

The components would then be automatically stitched back together into a single package and delivered to the Senate, where hardliners are plotting procedural measures to postpone final passage.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Argentina Asks To Join NATO As President Milei Seeks A More Prominent Role For His Nation

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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Argentina formally sought on Thursday to join NATO as a worldwide partner, paving the stage for further political and security cooperation at a time when President Javier Milei’s right-wing government seeks to strengthen ties with Western powers and attract investment.

The request came as NATO Deputy General Secretary Mircea Geoana met with visiting Argentine Defense Minister Luis Petri in Brussels to discuss regional security problems.

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Argentina Asks To Join NATO As President Milei Seeks A More Prominent Role For His Nation

Geoana said he supported Argentina’s bid to become an accredited partner in the alliance, which is a valuable role short of “ally” for nations outside NATO’s geographical territory and not compelled to participate in joint military actions. NATO membership is currently confined to European countries, Turkey, Canada, and the United States.

The classification may provide Argentina with access to modern technology, security systems, and training that it did not previously have, according to the Argentine presidency.

“Argentina plays an important role in Latin America,” Geoana stated at NATO headquarters. “Closer political and practical cooperation could benefit us both.”

Milei has been promoting a radical libertarian agenda aimed at undoing years of protectionist trade policies, overspending, and debilitating international debt that have thrown the country’s economy into disarray.

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Argentina Asks To Join NATO As President Milei Seeks A More Prominent Role For His Nation

Over the last four months as president, he has reshaped Argentina’s foreign policy to one of almost unconditional support for the United States, as part of an effort to restore Argentina’s global economic prominence after previous administrations allowed relations with Washington and European allies to deteriorate.

Milei’s government is likewise looking for security gains from improved ties with Western countries. On Thursday, the US government revealed that it would provide Argentina with $40 million in foreign military financing for the first time in more than two decades, allowing critical US allies such as Israel to purchase American weapons.

The money, meant to assist Argentina equip and modernize its military, will help cover the cost of 24 American F-16 fighter aircraft purchased from Denmark earlier this week. Defense Minister Petri described the acquisition of the upgraded jets as “the most important military purchase since Argentina’s return to democracy” in 1983. Milei’s political opponents have criticized the $300 million price tag, which comes as he lowers government expenditure.

Formal partnership with NATO requires the agreement of all 32 NATO countries. Argentina’s relations with crucial NATO partner Britain have been strained since 1982, when the two went to war over the disputed Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic.

The Alliance’s other global partners include Afghanistan, Australia, Iraq, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, and Pakistan. Colombia is now NATO’s lone partner in Latin America.

Giving a country the title of “global partner” does not guarantee that NATO allies will defend it in the case of an attack. That pledge, outlined in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s founding treaty, is limited to full members of the alliance.

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Argentina Asks To Join NATO As President Milei Seeks A More Prominent Role For His Nation

NATO’s conversation with Argentina began in the early 1990s. Former President Bill Clinton labeled Argentina a “major non-NATO ally” in 1998, partly as a symbolic gesture to reward the pro-American government at the time for contributing soldiers on peacekeeping operations in Bosnia.

SOURCE – (AP)

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