Australia’s “Black Summer” wildfire produced almost twice as much CO2 as all Australians in a year

Carbon monoxide concentration [mol/m2] Measured using TROPOMI in Australia on December 20, 2019. A severe wildfire has significantly increased carbon monoxide in the atmosphere. The TROPOMI team calculated total CO2 emissions from these wildfires. This is almost double the CO2 from the annual consumption of fossil fuels across Australia.Credit: SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research

The Australian summer of 2019-2020, also known as “Black Summer,” was characterized by a series of catastrophic wildfires. Researchers at VU University Amsterdam and SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Studies determine the amount of CO2 It was released by these fires using satellite data.Wildfires produced almost twice as much CO2 As Australia’s annual fossil fuel consumption.The study was published in Nature..

Wildfires, mainly in the eucalyptus forest, raged for three months from 2019 to 2020. A team of Dutch scientists from VU and SRON now determines total CO2 Emissions in excess of 700 billion kilograms. This is almost double the annual emissions from fossil fuel consumption across Australia, comparable to the annual emissions from air travel around the world.

Satellite equipment TROPOMI

Woods fire The model already provided estimates, but they returned different results.The team of researchers decided to use another method to estimate CO2 Emissions. VU / SRON researcher and lead author Ivar van der Velde explains: “By using satellite data of carbon monoxide (CO) concentration in the atmosphere, total CO can be estimated more accurately.2 Emissions. To that end, we used the Dutch spacecraft TROPOMI.It does not measure release The scale of the fire is large, but the effect on the amount of CO in the atmosphere. An atmospheric transport model was used to convert surface CO emissions into atmospheric CO concentrations. We then optimized the model’s CO emissions to match the CO observed at TROPOMI. The ratio of CO to CO2 What was released during a fire in the Eucalyptus Forest is fairly well known from field measurements. Researchers were also able to derive CO.2 Emissions from these black summer fires.

“TROPOMI makes it possible to monitor wildfires and carbon monoxide emissions from space much more accurately, thanks to the precision of the equipment down to the bottom of the atmosphere where fires occur.” Ilse Aben, Professor of VU and Head of TROPOMI Research, said. SRON team.

New phenomenon

Wildfires are a naturally recurring phenomenon in Australia. Climate and Forest Fire Expert Guidovan der Werf (VU): “Fires occur frequently, especially in the savanna region of Australia. The uniqueness of” black summer “fires is so great that they are not usually found in eucalyptus. It is to rage in the forest. Therefore, this study raises new questions about these (yet) rare but very large fires and is expected to become even more frequent in the future. Van der Wharf said:Forests and some of the emitted CO2 Not compensated by CO2 Incorporation during regrowth after fire.Part of the released CO2 Therefore, it stays in the atmosphere for a long time and contributes to global warming. This is in stark contrast to small wildfires, which are often considered climate-neutral, as regrowth can occur relatively quickly after a fire. As a result, they may be addressing a new phenomenon similar to the fire seen during large-scale deforestation such as the Amazon.Such deforestation fires are the cause of pure CO2 Emissions for the permanent removal of biomass from ecosystems to give way to more farmland. ”

Given current global warming As a trend, researchers say it is quite possible that the frequency, duration and scale of wildfires in southeastern Australia, and perhaps elsewhere, will increase in the future.This contributes to a faster rise in CO2 Higher level than expected.

Amazon deforestation and fires harm public health

For more information:
Huge CO2 emissions from satellite-constrained 2019-2020 Australian fires, Nature (2021). DOI: 10.1038 / s41586-021-03712-y ,

Quote: Australia’s “Black Summer” wildfire produces almost twice as much CO2 as all Australians in a year (September 15, 2021), September 15, 2021 Obtained from news / 2021-09-australian-black-summer-. wildfires-co2.html

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Australia’s “Black Summer” wildfire produced almost twice as much CO2 as all Australians in a year

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