Australia wildfires unleash millions of tons of carbon dioxide
The historic wildfires in Australia likely unleashed about 900 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, equivalent to nearly double the country’s total yearly fossil fuel emissions, according to scientists.
Although some of the emissions could eventually be offset by forest regrowth, researchers worry that the uptick in the heat-trapping greenhouse gas could accelerate climate change and portend a “new normal” for yearly emissions, particularly as global warming intensifies wildfires and lengthens fire seasons.
The full impact of the unprecedented fires in southeastern Australia is not yet known, but Rob Jackson, a professor of Earth system science at Stanford University, said their emissions could hit 1 billion tons by the end of the season. For comparison, Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions from electricity, transportation, agriculture and industry collectively totaled about 540 million tons from March 2018 to March 2019.