Speed Reading — Arctic Wildfires - Level 3 — 100 wpm

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Hundreds of huge wildfires have broken out all across the Arctic Circle. Areas in the Arctic are warming twice as fast as anywhere else on the planet. There are so many fires and they are so big that the smoke from them can be seen from space. Meteorologists report that the Arctic is having its hottest June ever and is suffering its worst wildfire season on record. There are huge blazes covering large areas of Greenland, Siberia, Scandinavia and Alaska. In Alaska, there are as many as 400 fires burning out of control. In Greenland, melting on the vast Greenland ice sheet has started a month earlier than usual. The World Meteorological Organization has said the Arctic fires are "unprecedented".

Scientists say the fires and suffocating smoke could have an effect on global warming. Meteorologist Mark Parrington explained what is causing the wildfires. He said: "Temperatures in the Arctic have been increasing at a much faster rate than the global average, and warmer conditions encourage fires to grow and persist once they have been ignited." Dry ground, more lightning strikes and strong winds have caused the fires to spread very quickly. A lot of ice has melted and the flames have set fire to methane-filled earth below the ice. This is releasing huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The fires have also caused serious habitat loss and have killed uncountable numbers of animals.

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