Australian wildfires emit more CO2 than fossil fuels produced by the country

For three months, the eucalyptus forests of southeastern Australia burned. During the ‘black summer’ of 2019-2020, a large amount of CO2 In the atmosphere. Burning more than 700 million tons of fossil fuels is more than double what the country emits in a year. Comparable to annual global emissions from aviation.

Wildfires have always been a major contributor to global CO2Researchers from the Dutch Institute for Emissions, Free University and Space Research SRON write in Wednesday’s issue Nature. But that share, 20 to 25 percent, has so far been offset by reforestation and CO2 Posts.

SRON’s Iver van der Velde says that cycle has already been disrupted to make way for agriculture in deforested areas. “Now this fire in Australia seems to be contributing to global warming. However, more time is needed to restore forests, i.e. CO.2 Stays in the atmosphere for a long time. Also, warming in this area causes heat and drought, resulting in more fires. We do not think that plants have the opportunity to return to the old state. ”

Measured in the field

There were already reports on the amount of CO2Emissions, but these are based on estimates of burnt wood and grass. The Dutch used a trophome satellite to measure changes in the concentration of carbon monoxide in the atmosphere. Measuring carbon dioxide is not easy, explains Van der Velde. “Carbon monoxide did, and we measured the ratio of the two gases in the field when eucalyptus trees were burned. So our numbers are very reliable.”

The question is whether other wildfires also make a net contribution to CO2Emissions. Like the latest fire in the Mediterranean or California. These are big fires, with apocalyptic images, Van der Welt agrees. “But the sequence is different than it was in Australia. The fire in Siberia’s boreal forests is not even big. But if the fire goes deep into the charcoal soil there, the ancient CO will be released.2 Free, it will no longer be saved. The Tropomi Group plans to reduce CO2Monitoring emissions.

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