Dry winters, climate change causes Nepal to experience worst wildfires in a decade
More than 2,700 wildfires have been reported in Nepal since November, 14 times higher than in the same period last year.
Nepal is experiencing its worst fire season in almost a decade, officials said Tuesday, as huge blazes rage across the country's forests, engulfing the Himalayan nation in a shroud of brownish haze. Air quality in the capital Kathmandu was ranked on Tuesday as the worst in the world, according to monitoring site IQAir, with some international flights delayed as thick smoke blanketed the city. "The highest number of wildfires have been reported this season since records of such incidents were maintained nine years ago," the spokesman for Nepal's National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority, Uddav Prasad Rijal, told AFP.
Firefighters were working to bring the flames under control, officials said.
More than 2,700 wildfires have been reported in Nepal since November, 14 times higher than in the same period last year, the government said.
Rijal said the winter season between November and February was drier than usual, increasing the risk. The wildfire season starts in November and lasts until the onset of the monsoon in June.
Farmers were also burning parts of forested land to grow grass to feed their livestock, Rijal added.
In Bara district in southern Nepal, a villager said his home had been "choking in smoke" for a week as fire raged in a local forest.
ICYMI: Nepal’s ongoing climate emergency
Climate change is literally fueling wildfires in Nepal which is experiencing its worse fire season in decades.
As of Tuesday, air quality in the capital Kathmandu was ranked on Tuesday as the worst in the world.https://t.co/tr5m7zEyoW pic.twitter.com/2UZd6t8g9l
— Greenpeace (@Greenpeace) April 8, 2021
VIDEO: 🇳🇵 #Nepal is experiencing its worst wildfire season in almost a decade, officials say, as huge blazes rage across the country's forests, engulfing the Himalayan nation in a shroud of brownish haze pic.twitter.com/AwMXjW3C7O
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) April 7, 2021
Far-West Nepal’s air quality worsens further. Dhangadi AQI hits a record 429 this morning. With wildfires raging all around us, where are we headed? pic.twitter.com/QWh3bb9qPi
— Surendra Phuyal (@surendraphuyal) April 5, 2021
Hazardous #Airquality over #Nepal! #Copernicus #Sentinel5p allows detecting strong CO total column increase in 2021 wrt 2019 and 2020, most likely due to #fires while the #Sentinel2 eye sees the thick smoke around #Kathmandu on April 5. @CleanAirLondon @themadstone @jessieyeung8 pic.twitter.com/3y7PYgPnjr
— ADAM Platform (@PlatformAdam) April 7, 2021
Nepal🇳🇵 has been experiencing several days of >> average #wildfire/#openburning activity causing widespread smoke/haze #airpollution. Latest #CopernicusAtmosphere #opendata showing AOD & PM2.5 forecasts valid for 29/03, 12 UTC https://t.co/JU4QS3tVZ4 & daily total fire intensity https://t.co/AU1DNIuUyw pic.twitter.com/1gEaD3WeHz
— Mark Parrington (@m_parrington) March 29, 2021
#Nepal is experiencing the country's worst wildfires in almost a decade. Over the past 24 hours, #Kathmandu's AQI has remained in the "Unhealthy" to "Hazardous" range. https://t.co/jKAKDVIEFG via @physorg_com pic.twitter.com/yQhdc6Ufwv
— IQAir (@IQAir) April 6, 2021
"It was the worst wildfire I have seen in my life. There has to be a system to control it better," Bharat Ghale, 60, said.
Climate expert Madhukar Upadhya said it was "inevitable" that there would be more wildfires as Nepal's winters become drier as a result of climate change.
"Work needs to be done to reduce the risk of fires at community level and they (communities) have to be equipped to mitigate it when a wildfire occurs," Upadhya told AFP.
Last week, schools were shut for four days after air quality reached hazardous levels.
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But satellite monitoring is not enough on its own and cannot capture the detail you can get on the ground.