Scientists say wildfires in these forests can release an astonishing amount of greenhouse gases 2022-04-27 13:00:19

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A study was published in Science Advances Magazine He found that wildfires in North America – which are already on the rise due to global warming – could release nearly 12 gigatons of carbon emissions into the atmosphere over the next three decades. This is equivalent to the annual emissions of 2.6 billion fossil-fueled cars.

It’s a “chain of consequences” from the climate crisis, said Carly Phillips, lead author of the study and a fellow of the Western States Climate Team of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“The bigger takeaway is that these northern fires release massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, and as a result jeopardize our ability to meet certain climate goals.” Phillips told CNN. “A lot is at stake.”

“It almost goes without saying that there are real impacts on the people on Earth who live in these fires,” she added. “There are transportation impacts, tourism impacts, economic impacts and so on from these fires that can be really devastating to local communities.”

The boreal forest, also known as the “taiga”, is the world’s largest and most intact biome, forming a sprawling and dense ring of forests below the Arctic Circle and extending over vast areas of the Northern Hemisphere in North America, Europe, and Russia. This ecosystem – which contains trees such as spruce, pine, and fir – makes up about a third of all forests on the planet.

Unreasonably high temperatures combined with dry conditions turned the boreal forest in much of Alberta into a heatbox on May 4, 2016.
In the past, researchers called the boreal forestsThe carbon the world forgot“Because it stores approximately 30-40% of all the carbon on land in the world, most of it is sequestered in the soil. Cold temperatures in the northern hemisphere prevent dead biomass from decomposing, storing carbon for thousands of years deep in permafrost.
But as climate change and industrial activities progress deeper into the vital ecosystem, degrading the Earth and releasing more planet-warming gases that fuel it. devastating forest firesmany climate researchers fear that the northern region could reach turning pointand then they move from absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to emitting it.
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boreal forests Warming up twice faster Like other parts of the world. Over the years, researchers say, it has become a vicious cycle of feedback to climate change: Emissions from wildfires contribute to increased global temperatures, which in turn fuel wildfires.

“One of the difficult and interesting things about wildfires right now is that they are being driven by climate change and climate change factors,” Phillips said.

The study suggests that the scorched area of ​​northern Alaskan forests could increase by up to 169% by 2050, while the scorched area of ​​the Canadian north could expand by as much as 150%.

Philips says their findings are likely conservative estimates, given that they did not assess melting permafrost and other harmful greenhouse gases emitted by fires including methane and nitrous oxide, which drive temperatures in the atmosphere aerial.

“We know the implications of wildfires in these areas are that there can be reactions to thawing permafrost and as a result, exposure and release of that long-stored carbon,” she said. “Second, we only count direct emissions from a fire and then regrowth but we don’t count the decomposition that can occur after a fire.”

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a The latest United Nations reportwhich found that the number of severe wildfire events globally will increase by up to 30% by 2050, said it was time for the planet to adapt and “learn to live with fire” through better fire management practices to prevent more lives and economies from being lost. Put her in harm’s way.

However, Phillips and her colleagues found that boreal forests in North America receive disproportionately little funding for fire management efforts. According to the report, Alaska accounts for about 20% of the country’s burned land area plus half of fire emissions annually, yet the state receives only about 4% of federal funding for fire management.

“We are now seeing the smoke of these fires moving around the world, and that really confirms that this is a global problem, while some of the most damaging effects are local,” Phillips said. “The effects of these fires are of global significance. This is an opportunity for us to tackle these greenhouse emissions that are emitted by these wildfires.”

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