Scientists: Forest fires warm the Earth’s atmosphere

British climatologists have found that the forest and steppe fires in Australia in 2019-2020 led to the strongest heating of the stratosphere over the past 30 years.

They published the results of their study on this issue in the journal Scientific Reports.

“Global temperatures rose sharply in January 2020 to levels not seen since the early 1990s and were accompanied by anomalous stratospheric warming,” the researchers said. “Our analysis showed that fires in southeast Australia were responsible for this warming and atmospheric warming. “. stratosphere”.

Large-scale forest fires began on the east coast of Australia in mid-October 2019. The flames engulfed large areas in the southeast of the continent, as well as a number of areas in the south of the country. The situation only improved after heavy rains in the first decade of February 2020. The fires have destroyed more than 12 million hectares of forest and killed about 3 billion animals. This natural phenomenon was called an ecological catastrophe.

A team of climate scientists led by Lily Damani Pierce, a researcher at the University of Exeter in the UK, has identified a link between wildfires and weather anomalies that hit the world in the first half of 2020. Scientists made this discovery when calculating the climatic consequences of the so-called “black summer”, as this disaster was called in Australia.

Climate scientists said that in December 2020 and January 2021, a lot of aerosol droplets of sulfur, microscopic soot particles and other materials appeared from forest and steppe fires, which could cause a cooling of the climate or, conversely, increase the heating of the upper atmosphere. and the lower layers of the planet’s atmosphere.

Based on this idea, the scientists prepared a detailed computer model that helped them calculate the impact of the Australian fires on the climate of the continent and the entire Earth. These calculations took into account the influence of atmospheric currents, as well as hurricanes, dry storms, and other weather phenomena on the spread of aerosols and ash.

Scientists’ calculations also showed that the smoke from the Australian fires rose to a height of 16 kilometers, which allowed a large amount of aerosol particles and soot to penetrate into the stratosphere. Their total number, according to scientists, can be compared with the amount of ash and sulfur compounds released into the atmosphere during the eruption of large volcanoes.

The penetration of ash and aerosols into the stratosphere led to its unusually rapid and strong heating, which has not been observed since the early 1990s. As a result, the temperature in the stratosphere and lower atmosphere increased by 0.7 degrees Celsius, and this increase persisted for about 4 months. Climate scientists have come to the conclusion that forest and steppe fires can greatly affect the weather and climate of the Earth at the global level.

Source: TASS