Forest fires in climate change

Forest fires in climate change

23 May 2018

Published by

ISRAEL-GFMC – During its lifetime, a tree absorbs about 700 kilograms of carbon from the atmosphere and gives the environment new life. Planting trees helps to contain global warming.

Over the past three decades, severe forest fires in Australia, Africa, America and Eurasia have made the increasing sensitivity of ecosystems ever clearer. The fact that the threat of forest fires will spread even further in the coming decades is the unanimous opinion of experts. The flammability of ecosystems will increase. Reasons for this are natural as well as man-made influencing factors. Constant global warming contributes as much to this as demographic change. But these are only two factors of many. Each district has its own laws of fire, such as the composition of the tree population, the length of the summer or the frequency of the lightning strike.

Autoignition of oily trees

In Australia, forest fires are part of everyday life. However, the catastrophic major fire that raged on 7 February 2009 is an example of the impact of climate change. Temperatures well in excess of 40 degrees cause oily trees such as eucalyptus to self-ignite due to the heat, entire forests suddenly fly into the air. This ghosting scenario was described by David Bowman, professor of fire ecology at the University of Hobart in Tasmania. The same auto-inflammation leads in France in heathland or in the Balkans in peatlands to large-scale fires.

The demographic change

One consequence of the demographic change in August 2010 resulted in 20,000 smaller and larger fires in Russia, which could only be brought under control after many weeks. With the departure of entire generations from rural communities, huge forest areas are neglected, feral, no longer under constant observation. What started with a small fire ended with a flaming inferno. The carbon dioxide in the air around Moscow had risen tenfold as a result of the fires.

Dangerous pollutants

“In addition, Russia has seven million hectares of forest that is radioactively contaminated,” explains Professor Johann Goldammer of the Global Fire Monitoring Center in Freiburg. “This way, even highly dangerous pollutants such as cesium, radium, strontium and even plutonium can be released into the atmosphere with the smoke.” Such and similar dangers can be found all over the world. Unexploded ordnance in bombs or landmines can cause an unexpected explosion by fire. That’s the case in ex-Yugoslavia, but also, for example, still in Brandenburg.
50 to 60 years for a forest

Once a firestorm is in full swing, you hardly have a chance. He is spreading at an incredible speed, developing an independent life, even producing his own weather.
In the opinion of local experts, many hectares of forest with Aleppo pines, which have been the victims of fires in France in recent years, will not regenerate. For this, a forest usually needs 50 to 60 years. However, if forest fires break out at ever shorter intervals, as feared, our forests will hardly have a chance.

Carbon and greenhouse gases

If forests are lost forever, the damage goes much further. Worldwide studies show that the release of heat, soot and carbon dioxide from forest fires accounts for one fifth of the greenhouse effect. “The soil still contains a lot of carbon. When it burns, this carbon gets into the atmosphere. Due to the increasing forest fires and the resulting short life of the plants, this carbon can no longer be consumed, “explains Professor Bowman. Thus, the fires contribute to increased emissions of greenhouse gases, which in turn causes weather conditions that increase the risk of fire. As the fire ecologists warn, a vicious circle is opening up. The trigger of forest fires is not, as often suspected, arson in the first place. The main cause is pure carelessness, carelessness, ignorance of the speed and power of a fire. This applies especially to the Mediterranean countries, which have dried up during the summer months, as in the case of the fire in the Carmelgebirge. Experts therefore advocate that the population be included in the fire protection through more information. Detailed information on this topic can be found on the homepage of the Global Fire Monitoring Center. (english).

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