February 3, 2023

Boreal forest fires could release a stunning amount of carbon, scientists say

3 min read

A study published in Journal of Science Advances Found that wildfires in North America’s Boreal forests – already on the rise due to global warming – could emit about 12 gigatonnes of carbon emissions into the atmosphere over the next three decades. That’s the equivalent of 2.6 billion annual emissions from fossil fuel-powered cars.

Carly Phillips, lead author of the study and a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Western Meteorological Team, said it was a “clash of results” due to the climate crisis.

“The biggest benefit is that these fires in the Boreal areas are releasing large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere, and as a result, our ability to meet climate targets is really under threat.” Phillips told CNN. “A lot is at stake.”

“It goes without saying that there are real effects for the people on earth who are going through these wildfires,” he added. “These fires have the effects of transportation, the effects of tourism, the economic effects, etc. that can be really devastating for local communities.”

The Boreal Forest, also known as “Taiga”, is the world’s largest and most intact biomass, forming a vast, dense circle of forests beneath the Arctic Circle and extending to North America, Europe. And Russia is spread over vast areas of the Northern Hemisphere. This ecosystem – along with trees like spruce, pine and fur – makes up about one-third of all the world’s forests.

On May 4, 2016, unseasonably hot temperatures, coupled with drought conditions, turned the Boreal forest into a tender box for most of Alberta.
In the past, researchers have been able to “The world has forgotten carbon.Because it stores about 30 to 40% of all the earth’s carbon in the world, most of it is stored in the soil. The cold temperatures of the Northern Hemisphere prevent dead biomass from breaking down, storing carbon in the depths of permafrost for thousands of years.
But as climate change and industrial activity advance into the depths of critical ecosystems, the Earth is declining and spreading more gases warming the planet. Destructive forest firesMany climate researchers fear that it could reach the boreal. A tipping pointBeyond which they move from the atmosphere to the emission by absorbing carbon dioxide.
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There are boreal forests. Heat twice as fast Like other parts of the world. Over the years, researchers say it has become a vicious climate change feedback loop: emissions from wildfires increase global temperatures, causing wildfires to flare up.

“One of the most challenging and interesting things about forest fires right now is that they’re both drivers of climate change and climate change,” Phillips said.

The study notes that Alaska’s boreal forest burn area could increase by 169% by 2050, while Canadian boreal burn area could increase by 150%.

Phillips says his findings are a potentially conservative estimate, given that he did not estimate the rapid permafrost melting and other harmful greenhouse gases emitted from the fire, including methane and nitrous oxide. Which raises the ambient temperature.

“We know that the effects of wildfires in these areas are such that permafrost may have implications for melting and, as a result, exposure and release of this ancient stored carbon,” he said. ۔ “Secondly, we are only calculating direct emissions from the fire and then re-emergence, but we are not calculating the rot that can occur after a fire.”

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O Recent UN report, Who found that the number of severe wildfires worldwide would increase by 30% by 2050, said it was time to adapt the planet to better fire management practices and More lives and economies could be saved from harm by “learning to live together.” Being put in the way of loss.

Nevertheless, Phillips and his colleagues found that North America’s boreal forests receive disproportionately little funding for fire management efforts. According to the report, Alaska accounts for about 20% of the country’s burn area and half of its annual fire emissions, yet the state receives an average of only 4% of federal fire management funding.

Phillips said: “We are now seeing the smoke from these fires spread around the world, and this in fact indicates that it is a global problem, while some of the most damaging effects are local. ” “The effects of these fires are of global significance. And this is an opportunity for us to address the emissions from the heat that is coming out of these wildfires.”

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