Summer of wildfires wreaks havoc, record emissions in northern hemisphere – YubaNet
The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service closely monitored a summer of extreme forest fires in the northern hemisphere, including intense hot spots around the Mediterranean basin and in North America and Siberia. The intense fires led to new records in the CAMS dataset, with July and August recording their highest global carbon emissions respectively.
Scientists from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) closely followed a summer of severe forest fires that affected many countries in the northern hemisphere and caused record carbon emissions in July and August. CAMS, which is implemented by the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts on behalf of the European Commission with EU funding, reports that not only large parts of the northern hemisphere have been affected during this year’s boreal fire season, but the number of fires, their persistence and intensity were remarkable.
As the boreal fire season draws to a close, scientists at CAMS reveal that:
- Dry conditions and heat waves in the Mediterranean have contributed to a wildfire hotspot with numerous intense and rapid fires across the region, which have created large amounts of smoke pollution.
- July was a record month worldwide in the GFAS dataset with 1,258.8 megatons of CO2 published. More than half of the carbon dioxide has been attributed to fires in North America and Siberia.
- According to GFAS data, August was also a record month for fires, releasing around 1,384.6 megatonnes of CO2 globally in the atmosphere.
- Arctic forest fires released 66 megatonnes of CO2 between June and August 2021.
- Estimated CO2 emissions from forest fires in Russia as a whole from June to August amounted to 970 megatonnes, with the Republic of Sakha and Chukotka accounting for 806 megatonnes.
CAMS scientists use near real-time, active satellite observations of fires to estimate emissions and predict the impact of resulting air pollution. These observations provide a measure of the heat output of fires known as the radiative power of the fire (FRP), which is related to the emission. CAMS estimates daily global fire emissions with its Global Fire Assimilation System (GFAS) using FRP observations from NASA’s MODIS satellite instruments. Estimated emissions of different air pollutants are used as a surface boundary condition in the CAMS forecasting system, based on the ECMWF weather forecast system, which models the transport and chemistry of air pollutants, to predict how the quality of the air is Global air will be affected for up to five days to come.
The boreal fire season generally lasts from May to October, with a peak of activity between July and August. In this summer of forest fires, the most affected regions were:
Many countries in the eastern and central Mediterranean suffered the effects of intense forest fires in July and August with smoke plumes clearly visible on satellite imagery and CAMS analysis and forecasts crossing the eastern Mediterranean basin. While Southeastern Europe has experienced prolonged heat waves, CAMS data showed that the daily fire intensity for Turkey reached the highest levels in the GFAS dataset dating back to 2003. Following the fires in Turkey, other countries in the region have been affected by devastating forest fires, including Greece. , Italy, Albania, North Macedonia, Algeria and Tunisia.
Fires also hit the Iberian Peninsula in August, affecting large areas of Spain and Portugal, particularly a large area near Navalacruz in the province of Avila, just west of Madrid. Large forest fires have also been recorded east of Algiers in northern Algeria, with CAMS GFAS forecasts showing high surface concentrations of fine particulate matter PM2.5. (compare the cover photo).
While the Sakha Republic in northeast Siberia typically experiences some degree of wildfire activity every summer, 2021 has been unusual, not only in size, but also in the persistence of fires. high intensity since early June. A new emissions record was set on 3rd August for the region and emissions were also more than double the previous total from June to August. In addition, the daily intensity of the fires has reached above average levels since June and did not begin to decline until early September. Other affected areas in Siberia were Chukotka Autonomous Oblast (including parts of the Arctic Circle) and Irkutsk Oblast. The increased activity observed by scientists at CAMS corresponds to an increase in temperatures and a decrease in soil moisture in the region.
Left: Estimation of carbon emissions for the period June-July-August and the years 2003-2021 for the Republic of Sakha. Right: Daily radiative fire power, a measure of heat output, for fires in the Republic of Sakha in 2021. Credit: Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service / ECMWF
Large-scale forest fires burned across western parts of North America in July and August, affecting several Canadian provinces as well as the Pacific Northwest and California. The so-called Dixie Fire that raged through Northern California is now one of the largest on record in the history of the state. The pollution resulting from the persistent and intense activity of the fires has affected the air quality of thousands of people in the region. The CAMS global forecast also showed a mixture of smoke from the long-lasting forest fires that were burning in Siberia and North America crossing the Atlantic. A clear plume of smoke was observed crossing the North Atlantic and reaching the western British Isles in late August before passing through the rest of Europe. This happened as Saharan dust moved in the opposite direction across the Atlantic, including a section over southern areas of the Mediterranean, resulting in reduced air quality.
Mark Parrington, Senior Scientist and Forest Fire Expert in the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service at ECMWF, comments: “Throughout the summer we have been monitoring forest fire activity in the hemisphere. North. What stood out as unusual was the number of fires, the size of the areas in which they burned, their intensity and also their persistence. For example, forest fires in the Republic of Sakha in northeast Siberia have been burning since June and only started to recede in late August, although we observed persistent fires in early September. It’s a similar story in North America, parts of Canada, the Pacific Northwest, and California, which have experienced major wildfires since late June and early July and are still ongoing. “
“It is of concern that drier and warmer regional conditions – brought about by global warming – are increasing the flammability and risk of vegetation fires. This led to very intense and rapidly developing fires. While local weather conditions play a role in the actual behavior of fires, climate change helps provide the ideal environments for forest fires. More fires around the world are also expected in the coming weeks, as the fire season in the Amazon and South America continues to develop. ” he adds.
More information on the forest fires in the northern hemisphere during the summer of 2021: https://atmosphere.copernicus.eu/northern-hemisphere-wildfires-follow-pattern-warm-and-dry-weather
The CAMS Global Fire Monitoring page can be accessed here: https://atmosphere.copernicus.eu/fire-monitoring
To learn more about fire monitoring, check out the CAMS Wildfire Q&A: https://atmosphere.copernicus.eu/qa-wildfires