Wildfires caused by global warming ‘are accelerating global warming’ – Yahoo News UK
The risk of wildfires has been increased by climate change – and the researchers warn that the carbon released by wildfires could lead to even more wildfires in the future, in what’s known as a ‘positive feedback loop’.
The research was published in the journal One Earth, detailing how the brown carbon released by burning biomass in the northern hemisphere is accelerating warming in the Arctic.
Blazing wildfires are accompanied by vast plumes of brown smoke, made up of particles of brown carbon suspended in the air.
In 2017, the Chinese icebreaker vessel Xue Long headed for the Arctic Ocean to research how brown carbon released by wildfires was affecting the climate.
The researchers investigated how its warming effects compared to those of denser black carbon from high-temperature fossil fuel burning, the second most powerful warming agent after carbon dioxide.
Their results showed that brown carbon was contributing to warming more than previously thought.
Pingqing Fu, an atmospheric chemist at Tianjin University said, “To our surprise, observational analyses and numerical simulations show that the warming effect of brown carbon aerosols over the Arctic is up to about 30% of that of black carbon.”
In the last 50 years, the Arctic has been warming at a rate three times that of the rest of the planet, and it appears that wildfires are helping to drive this discrepancy.
The researchers found that brown carbon from burning biomass was responsible for at least twice as much warming as brown carbon from fossil fuel burning.
Like black carbon and carbon dioxide, brown carbon warms the planet by absorbing solar radiation.
“The increase in brown carbon aerosols will lead to global or regional warming, which increases the probability and frequency of wildfires,” says Fu.
“Increased wildfire events will emit more brown carbon aerosols, further heating the earth, thus making wildfires more frequent.”
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