The swift changes in the Arctic’s tundra landscapes is absolutely terrifying. These ecosystems are usually too cold and wet and full of ice to catch flame. But lately, freakish extreme heat waves have ravaged these landscapes, pushing temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius), thawing permafrost and melting ice. If these areas keep catching fire, ecosystems could change abruptly and dramatically, and millions of people in Siberia could see their homes and infrastructure destroyed.

The resulting ecological devastation could reach far beyond the Arctic’s limits. There’s some 1,600 billion metric tons of organic carbon trapped under Arctic permafrost, which is more than twice the amount of carbon that’s currently in our atmosphere. Unleashing all that carbon through fires would completely devastate the Earth’s climate.