published on 30 September 2021 in air

Record CO2 from summer fires in the northern hemisphere

The summer fires that impacted several countries, especially in the northern hemisphere, left a visible mark not only on the earth’s surface but also in the atmosphere. The European Atmosphere Monitoring Agency – Copernicus atmosphere monitoring service (CAMS) – found that CO2 emissions reached record levels in July and August due to the persistent summer fires. In particular, July was a record month globally with more than 1.2588 billion tonnes of CO2 released into the atmosphere. In August, some 1384.6 megatonnes were released into the atmosphere. More than half of the carbon dioxide has been attributed to fires in North America and Siberia.

Through real-time satellite monitoring of emissions, Copernicus scientists found that fires in the Arctic Circle alone were responsible for the emission of 66 million tonnes of CO2 between June and August 2021, while emissions in Russia amounted to 970 million tonnes. Experts explain that, in some areas such as, for example, Jakutija, the occurrence of a certain number of fires is not unusual, but 2021 has been an exceptional year, both in terms of the size of the fires and the persistence of high intensity blazes since the beginning of June. The Copernicus analysis, therefore, only confirms the fears of early August, when several experts had already declared that fires in Siberia and North America had contributed to the largest emission of carbon dioxide by wildfires since July 2003.

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