Arctic wildfires set new record for carbon emissions into atmosphere

Carbon emissions from this year’s wildfires burning in the Arctic Circle have already outstripped the 2019 previous highest levels, according to the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (Cams). The service, which monitors wildfire activity across the world, is run by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) on behalf of the European Commission.

Its scientists have ranked this year’s figures the highest for the region after studying data going back to 2003.

They estimate that from the beginning of the year carbon dioxide emissions from the Arctic Circle were 244 million tons – a third higher than the 181 million tons for the whole of 2019.

Most of the increase in wildfires has been in Russia’s Sakha Republic, which falls partly within the Arctic Circle, the scientists say, where millions of acres have been damaged.

Across Eastern Russia as a whole, fires emitted about 540million tons of carbon dioxide between June andAugust. That figure has surpassed the previous highest total emissions for the region seen in 2003.

Elsewhere in the world, heatwave conditions have caused wildfires to erupt in a large region of south-western America.

Large plumes of smoke have been spotted moving eastward across the Great Lakes towards the North Atlantic.

California has reported the second and third worst fires in the state’s history.

Senior scientist and wildfire expert Mark Parrington, from Cams, warned: “The Arctic fires burning since middle of June with high activity have already beaten 2019’s record in terms of scale and intensity, as reflected in the estimated carbon dioxide emissions.

“We know from climate data provided by our parallel service at ECMWF and the Copernicus Climate Change Service that warmer and drier conditions have been prevalent again this summer.”

Mr Parrington added: “Our monitoring is vital in understanding how the scale and intensity of these wildfire events have an impact on the atmosphere in terms of air pollution.”

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