DATE: July 26, 2019
SNIP: While most of Europe is focussing on this week’s record-breaking heatwave, others are making worried glances at what is happening in the Arctic Circle.
More than 100 “intense and long-lived wildfires” have been pumping carbon dioxide into the sky over the last eight weeks, according to the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS).
The total carbon dioxide emissions of the fires exceed the total yearly emissions of countries like Bulgaria, Hungary or Sweden, according to Mark Parrington, a senior scientist at the monitoring service.
The emissions also exceeded the levels than in any previous year over the past 17 years.
Atmospheric scientist Dr Santiago Gasso wrote that fires in Siberia had created “a smoke lid” over 4.5 million square kilometres.
“That is staggering,” he wrote.
Although there has been an increase of wildfires in the region over the past three or four years, this year has been exceptional.
“It is unusual to see fires of this scale and duration at such high latitudes in June,” said CAMS wildfire expert Mark Parrington last month. “But temperatures in the Arctic have been increasing at a much faster rate than the global average, and warmer conditions encourage fires to grow and persist once they have been ignited.”
Parrington said while CO2 is one of many pollutants in fires it is particularly striking because CO2 emissions can be compared to fossil fuel emissions from countries.