Wildfires broke emissions records this year in these countries

The European Union's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service has said wildfires produced a record amount of carbon emissions in parts of Siberia, the United States, and Turkey this year, as climate change fanned unusually intense blazes.

Wildfires emitted 1.76 billion tonnes of carbon globally in 2021, Copernicus said. This is equivalent to more than double Germany's annual CO2 emissions.

Let's take a look:



A huge number of wildfires raged across areas of western Siberia, around Omsk and Tyumen, resulting in daily emissions at well above the mean of previous years in the dataset for 2003-2021.

Daily fire intensity measured as Fire Radiative Power (FRP), which uses remotely sensed data to estimate the quantity of biomass burned, reached significantly above average levels from June right through to early September. 


North America

Wildfires burned across western parts of North America for a significant period from the end of June to late August.

The worst affected areas included several provinces in Canada, as well as California and the states in the Pacific Northwest of the US.

In all, these fires released estimated total carbon emissions of approximately 83 megatonnes into the atmosphere.


Mediterranean region

Many countries around the eastern and central Mediterranean suffered several days of high intensity wildfires in July and August, leading to high concentrations of fine particulate matter (known as PM2.5) and degraded air quality. 

Turkey was the worst hit in July, with CAMS GFAS data showing daily fire intensity at very high levels which were well above average for the region. 



Seasonal crop stubble burning in Pakistanoccurs every year between late September and the end of November.

The haze and smoke pollution caused by this activity was clearly apparent in visible satellite imagery during October and November 2021 and has also been reflected in very high values of fine particulate matter and aerosol optical depth in the CAMS global forecasts throughout the region.

This contributed to degraded air quality throughout the Indo-Gangetic Plain, extending from Pakistan to Bangladesh, where significant air pollution was observed, affecting millions of people.


Climate change

Globally, the wildfire emissions total wasn't the highest since 2003, but Copernicus said such emissions were likely to increase as the impacts of climate change unfold.


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