The wildfires that swept Europe this summer caused the largest emissions in 15 years | science and planet

The combination of the August heat wave and the persistent drought in Western Europe led to more intense and prolonged wildfires. The total emissions from wildfires in the European Union and the United Kingdom from 1 June to 31 August are estimated to be 6.4 megatonnes of carbon.

That’s the highest level for those months since the summer of 2007, according to data from CAMS’s Global Fire Assimilation System (GFAS), which identifies the locations and fire radiant capacity, or fire radiant energy (FRP), of wildfires.

Last summer’s emissions were largely attributed to wildfires in southwestern France and the Iberian Peninsula, according to CAMS. The highest emissions from wildfires over the past 20 years have been recorded in France and Spain.

The scale and continuity of fires in southwestern Europe has been “extremely concerning” throughout the summer, says Mark Barrington, EAM system scientist and bushfire expert. “The majority of the fires occurred in places where climate change has increased the flammability of vegetation.”

Elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere that traditionally experiences wildfires during the summer months, such as the northeastern regions of Yakutia and Chukotka in Russia and the United States in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana, projected emissions have been lower than in past years.

The Competence Assurance Management System is now monitoring fires and smoke from the Amazon, where the wildfire season has begun. The Brazilian state of Amazonas recorded the highest fire emissions in the past 20 years in July and August, with the exception of 2021.

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Megan Vasquez

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