Australia’s Bush Fires Are Huge Carbon Producer

Australia’s Bush Fires Are Huge Carbon Producer

16 February 2009

published by

Australia — Australia’s lethal bush fires loosed carbon into the sky, in millions of tonnes, comparable to greater than a third of the country’s emissions for a year, scientists say.

In Victoria, 180 have died and over 750 homes burnt down and the effect on climate will be severe because eucalyptus forest was alight, said Sydney University’s Mark Adams.

He said millions of acres of eucalyptus burning means substantial amounts of CO2 into the sky.

Each year Australia usually emits around 320m tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Adams’ work proved that previous fires emitted about 100m tonnes of CO2, per hectare, 50 to 80 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere.

Pressure on the planet’s fund of carbon dioxide comes from fires.

Adams said it was often claimed that new forests replace the carbon lost to the fire, which is partly true, but as fires become more common, the forest’s carbon equilibrium may change.

Research showed that carbon in most of the soil is really charcoal. Investigations into the effects of fires of converting wood to charcoal is needed.

It is unknown how fires react with wood to make ash and charcoal, or how long they remain.

Now fires have spread carbon over 100 tonnes per hectare of carbon over ground.

The destruction covers more than twice the area of London, including, north of Melbourne, over 20 towns, thus carbon from current fires may be greater than before.

The study he conducted makes Adams believe the recent year’s fires may have emitted 75 to 100 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, or 25 or even 30 million tonnes of carbon into the Austrailian skies.

He said the emissions were greater than capture of carbon can contain and should be discussed in the upcoming international agreement.

Enormous amounts of carbon go into the atmosphere once millions of hectares of eucalyptus burn, said Adams.

The Kyoto Protocol does not cover forest fire emissions, although it is under consideration for the next treaty under discussion in Copenhagen later this year.

The usual argument that new vegetation would absorb the extra CO2 emitted is true to a point, but since there are more fires now the forest carbon balance changes, said Adams.

The new protocol signed in Copenhagen will cover forest carbon because most scientists agree that not to do so would be to overlook the major threat to the planet’s supply of carbon dioxide from fires.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien