Canada wildfires burned an area 80% the size of Minnesota in 2023

The total area burned from the wildfires in Canada so far this year totals nearly the size of Minnesota, and the fires are still active. 

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It's been an unprecedented fire season so far in Canada, which has led to numerous air quality alerts across Minnesota over the summer. The fires have burned 44.2 million acres, the Minnesota Air Quality Index posted on X (formerly Twitter). The size of Minnesota is 55.6 million acres. 

RELATED: Canada's supercharged wildfire forecast could mean bad air quality in US through fall

The fires have the potential to lead to more smoky conditions in Minnesota toward the middle of next week, the Minnesota Air Quality Index added. Smoky skies and low air quality can impact people's health, especially those in sensitive groups. Poor air quality can lead to shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, chest pain, and fatigue, so people should limit their time outdoors. 

RELATED: Wildfire conditions returning to Minnesota could be a glimpse into the future

This year of wildfires may be just a preview of what can be expected in the years and decades ahead. While overall activity can vary wildly from year to year for dozens of reasons, ocean temperatures are far more consistent — until this year. Surface temperatures of the oceans across the globe are the warmest on record, by far. While Minnesota can't get a lot farther from the nearest ocean, they have a huge impact on our weather globally because roughly 70% of the Earth's surface is water. Warmer ocean waters mean warmer temperatures here on land. 

As temperatures continue climbing in the years ahead, conditions will get more and more favorable for active fire seasons thanks to the added opportunity for drought conditions to develop.