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Forest fires have broken emission records this year in the United States and Turkey

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A Cal Fire firefighter from the Lassen-Modoc unit watches a tanker crash into the Dixie Fire as trees burn on a hill on August 18, 2021 near Janesville, California.

Patrick T. Fallon | AFP | Getty Images

Forest fires aggravated by climate change have produced a record amount of carbon emissions in parts of Siberia, the United States and Turkey this year, scientists from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service said on Monday.

Intense and prolonged fires emitted an estimated 1.76 billion tonnes of carbon, equivalent to more than a quarter of the United States’ annual carbon emissions.

The Republic of Sakha in northeast Siberia, Turkey and the western United States recorded their highest wildfire emissions in 2021, according to Copernicus. Forest fires have also devastated Albania, Algeria, Greece, Italy, North Macedonia, Spain and Tunisia.

“As the year draws to a close, we have seen large areas experience intense and prolonged forest fire activity, some of which have been at levels not seen in the past two decades,” said Mark Parrington, principal scientist of Copernicus.

Man-made climate change has fueled warmer temperatures and drier conditions across the world, contributing to longer and more intense forest fire seasons. 2020 was one of the hottest years on record, and 2021 is virtually certain to be among the 10 hottest years on record.

In July, the Dixie fire broke out in northern California and lasted for more than three months. It became the second largest wildfire in the history of the state. The fires in California, Canada and the Pacific Northwest of the United States this year emitted an estimated 83 million tonnes of carbon, and plumes of smoke from those fires have crossed the Atlantic Ocean and reached large swathes. from Europe.

Many countries around the eastern and central Mediterranean also suffered several days of intense forest fires during the summer that resulted in high concentrations of fine particles and degraded air quality. In July, fires in Turkey caused mass evacuations and killed thousands of animals.

“The drier and warmer regional conditions caused by global warming increase the risk of flammability and vegetation fires and this has been reflected in the extremely large, rapidly growing and persistent fires that we are monitoring,” said Parrington said. “It is clear from 2021 that climate change provides the ideal environments for forest fires.”


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