2022 sets record fire activity in southwest Europe

2022 sets record fire activity in southwest Europe

The recent heatwave has caused blazes that have torched thousands of hectares of forest across Europe, and has made 2022 a record year for wildfire activity in southwestern Europe.

The EU satellite’s monitoring service noted the wildfires across countries such as France, Spain and Portugal. Additionally, the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) said that France had in the last three months reached the highest levels of carbon pollution from wildfires since records began in 2003. It also follows Spain registering its highest ever wildfire carbon emissions last month.

CAMS said the daily total fire radiative power, which is a measure of the blazes’ intensity, in France, Spain and Portugal in July and August was “significantly higher” than average. In addition, the service warned that a large proportion of western Europe was now in “extreme fire danger” with some areas of “very extreme fire danger”.

Mark Parrington, CAMS senior scientist, said: “”We have been monitoring an increase in the number and resulting emissions of wildfires as heatwave conditions have exacerbated fires in southwestern France and the Iberian Peninsula.

“The very extreme fire danger ratings that have been forecasted for large areas of southern Europe mean that the scale and intensity of any fires can be greatly increased, and this is what we have been observing in our emissions estimates and the impacts it has on local air quality.”

CAMS released satellite imagery detailing a plume of smoke from southwestern France extending hundreds of kilometres over the Atlantic.

France has received help battling the latest wildfire, which is 40 kilometres (25 miles) wide and has forced nearly 10,000 people to evacuate the region. Support has arrived in the form of 361 firefighters from European neighbours including Germany, Poland, Austria and Romania.

CAMS added that 2022 is currently the fourth highest year in terms of wildfire carbon globally.