2022 Sets Record Fire Activity in South West Europe: EU – Science-Environment News – Report by AFR

Fires that torched tens of thousands of hectares of forest in France, Spain and Portugal have made 2022 a record year for wildfires in south-west Europe, the EU’s satellite monitoring service said on Friday.

Amid an ongoing heatwave that has seen temperature records smash, the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) said that in the past three months, France has reached its highest level of carbon pollution from wildfires since records began in 2003.

It follows that Spain registered its highest CO2 emissions from forest fires last month.

Total daily fire irradiance – a measure of the intensity of the flames – was “significantly higher” than average in France, Spain and Portugal in July and August, according to CAMS.

The service warned that much of western Europe was now in “extreme fire risk”, with some areas being “very extreme fire risk”.

“We have observed an increase in the number and resulting emissions of wildfires as heatwaves have exacerbated fires in south-west France and the Iberian Peninsula,” said Mark Parrington, CAMS principal scientist.

“The very extreme fire hazard ratings projected for large areas of southern Europe mean that the magnitude and intensity of fires can be greatly increased and we have observed this in our emission estimates and the impact on local air quality.”

CAMS released satellite imagery showing a plume of smoke from the giant in south-west France stretching hundreds of kilometers across the Atlantic.

France has received help fighting the latest blaze, which is 40 kilometers wide and has forced about 10,000 people to evacuate the region, in the form of 361 firefighters from European neighbors including Germany, Poland, Austria and Romania.

Globally, 2022 is currently the fourth-highest year in terms of carbon from wildfires, CAMS said.

Scientists say that man-made climate change is making heatwaves like the exceptional heat and dry spell over western Europe much more likely.

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