Washington: According to a recent research, carbon emissions from Amazonian forest fires could be up to four times worse than feared.
New research of 6.5 million hectares of forest in Brazilian Amazonia has revealed that the aftermath of 2015 and 2016 forest fires in the Amazon resulted in CO2 emissions which are three to four times greater than comparable estimates from existing global fire emissions databases.
Researchers say uncontrolled wildfires in the understorey – or ground level – of humid tropical forests during extreme droughts are a large and poorly quantified source of CO2 emissions.
Lead author Kieran Withey of Lancaster University said, “Uncontrolled understorey wildfires in humid tropical forests during extreme droughts are a large and poorly quantified source of CO2 emissions. These understory fires completely consumed leaf litter and fine woody debris, while partially burning coarse woody debris; resulting in high immediate CO2 emissions. This analysis covers an area of just 0.7 per cent of Brazil, but the amount of carbon lost corresponds to 6 per cent of the annual emissions of the whole of Brazil in 2014.”
Dr Erika Berenguer of Oxford and Lancaster University said, “Overall, our combined results highlight the importance of considering wildfires in Brazilian forest conservation and climate change policies. With climate models projecting a hotter and drier future for the Amazon basin, wildfires are likely to become more widespread. The continued failure to consider wildfires in public policies will lead to shorter fire-return intervals, with forests being unable to recover their carbon stocks.”
The findings have been published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.