Carbon dioxide emissions from forest fires are at highest point ever

22 September 2021

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SPAIN – While forestry experts in Spain point to these fires being started on purpose, the intensity, spread and duration of wildfires is being exacerbated at a global level by climate change. Mark Parrington, senior scientist at Copernicus, said, “It is concerning that drier and hotter regional conditions, brought about by global warming, increase the flammability and fire risk of vegetation. This has led to very intense and fast-developing fires. While the local weather conditions play a role in the actual fire behaviour, climate change is helping provide the ideal environments for wildfires.”

Carbon dioxide levels released by forest fires hit their highest peak since Copernicus started taking measurements in 2003, and this July was another record month with 1258.8 megatonnes. Scientists are now worried that more than capturing excess carbon dioxide, woodlands are contributing to the climate crisis because of their tinderbox conditions, while many species of animals are in danger of extinction due to raging fires.

Elsewhere in Europe, Greece, Turkey, Russia, Italy, Portugal, Albania, North Macedonia, Algeria, and Tunisia have all had enormous forest fires this summer that have sent huge amounts of pollution across the Mediterranean. Incredibly, even the Arctic Circle released as much as 66 million tonnes of CO2 this summer. Curiously enough, fires are also becoming more common in this snowy region which has warmed more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet.

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