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The climate affects fires, which are at risk in Europe and the Mediterranean

2022-07-02T08:10:11.796Z

An unprecedented increase in the risk of fires throughout Europe, but in particular for the Mediterranean area, caused in recent years by climate change: this was revealed by a study published in Scientific Reports and led by the University of Barcelona, ​​with an important Italian contribution of the University of Salento and Esrin, the European Center for Earth Observation in Frascati of the European Space Agency (ANSA)



An unprecedented increase in the risk of fires throughout Europe, but in particular for the Mediterranean area, caused in recent years by climate change: this was revealed by a study published in Scientific Reports and led by the University of Barcelona, ​​with an important Italian contribution of the University of Salento and Esrin, the European Center for Earth Observation in Frascati of the European Space Agency (ESA). 

The research, thanks to satellite observations, has made it possible to link the greater risk of fires with the increase in CO2 emissions due to these phenomena and underlines the urgency of adopting effective forest management strategies to reduce these risks and avoid compromising European forest-based decarbonisation strategies.

The areas that are most endangered are the forests and mountain areas of central and southern Europe, which also constitute large deposits of carbon that the fire threatens to release: the Pyrenees, the Iberian mountain range and the Cantabrian mountain range, but also the French Massif Central, the Alps and the Apennines, and finally the Carpathians, the Balkan Mountains and the Pontic-Caucasus region.

The conclusions of the study, which also calculated the evolution of fire risk up to 2100, suggest that this could increase further in these regions that will be most affected by climate change.


The researchers, led by Jofre Carnicer, have detected a number of summer and spring days with unprecedented fire risk values ​​in recent years, due to the fact that many regions of Europe are reaching extreme conditions favorable to these events, due to the increasing heat waves and prolonged drought.

"This increase in the risk of extreme fires is recent and, at critical times, exceeds the ability to fight them," Carnicer comments, "causing greater CO2 emissions associated with fires in extremely hot and dry summers."



Forests on the European continent absorb around 10% of total greenhouse gas emissions each year, capturing around 360 million tonnes of CO2 per year.

For this reason, the increase in fires reported by the study poses a problem for the development and application of the new European Forest Strategy, which proposes to maintain an annual reduction of at least 310 million tons of CO2 thanks to the forestry and agricultural sector by 2030.



The increased risk of fires could undermine these strategies, the study authors say, if effective countermeasures are not taken soon.

"Furthermore, it could create a positive feedback mechanism on climate change, in progressive warming cycles, increased fire danger and increased fire-induced CO2 emissions," says Carnicer.

"In this context - he concludes - drastically reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the next two decades is essential to achieve a lower risk of fires in Europe and in the world".

Source: ansa

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