Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Southern California blazes add to global warming

From the San Francisco Chronicle:
...According to the California Air Resources Board, the blazes raging from Malibu to the Mexican border will send some 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, plus 200,000 tons of methane and nitrous oxide....MORE
And from Slate:

How much carbon does a forest fire spew into the atmosphere?

...You've also got to factor in the composition of the ravaged soil. The fires that swept across Indonesia in 1997, for example, burned relatively thin-trunked tropical trees. But the devastated forests were also covered in carbon-rich peat, with deposits measuring up to 20 meters thick. As a result, the Indonesian fires were estimated to have released between 0.81 and 2.57 gigatons of carbon—between 13 percent and 40 percent of the world's annual emissions at the time.

Thankfully, the typical North American wildfire isn't nearly that calamitous, at least in terms of carbon emissions. Environment Canada estimates that for every acre of primarily coniferous forest burned, approximately 4.81 metric tons of carbon is released into the atmosphere—between 80 percent and 90 percent in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2), with the rest as carbon monoxide (CO) and methane (CH4).

In 2006, a record-setting 96,385 wildfires destroyed about 9.87 million acres of forest in the United States. According to the Canadian figure, then, forest fires accounted for 47.47 million metric tons of carbon emissions in the United States last year. For comparison, the nation's annual carbon dioxide emissions are said to be around 6.049 billion metric tons....MORE

HT: Energy Roundup