First of all: forest fires are common here, and they are part of the natural cicle of the forest themselves. The real problem is not the size or count of those fires, but where they are happening. Deforestation has been blatant in Brazil for decades, but years of increased regulation had them on a continuous decreasing trend. Under the new government, however, it has surged again. Some sources mention deforestation areain 2019 might reach double the amount of 2018, although it's hard to trust any such information these days due to political appropriation of data and information channels.
So with more deforestation, these fires are cutting deeper into the forest, into areas previously not touched by fire, some of which may never recover. As I mentioned: such fires are common, but at the edge of the forest where plant and wildlife are adapted to them. The ecosystem of the deeper jungle is completely different, and species from the edges, when not dead, are forced into areas they did not live before, either in or out of the forest. The impact of this movements is hard to predict, but bound to be disastrous.
It would be bad enough if this was related to a more global climate trend or a natural cicle of things. What really hurts though is the fact that many of these fires are, however, intentionally started by people, driven by commercial interest in either developing or farming the land, almost always illegally, and as of recently encouraged by our very government officials.
So, yeah, things are pretty bad, but hey have been so for a while and even if the numbers are worse in Angola and Congo, the conjunction of natural and political causes need to be taken into account.
Justified by that, the government has aggressively cut budgets for multiple agencies responsible for environmental enforcement and monitoring, including a few high profile cases which led to the heads of INPE (Brasil's NASA) and ICMBio (which manages all National Parks) to resign in frustration.
Different conditions and sensors can be selected, including both particulat (PM2.5 especially) and CO concentrations, both of which are strongly (though not exclusively) associated with wildfires. SO4 is another combustion-related emission, though also associated with power plants, shipping (major shipping lanes are very sharply visible), and volcanic erruptions (see especially the Kiril Islands, north of Japan).
Looking at PM2.5, Here's the current view over Brazil:
And over Congo:
And a year ago, 24 August 2018, over ...
You can see other sensor information or skip forward or back a few days or weeks to see what trends are like.
I'd not done this until just now, and frankly, it appears that last year's smoke activity was actually greater, though the 2019 fires may have been worse several days ago (there's been pronounced global political backlash).
The "day of burning" was the 19th as I recall, let's look back a few days ... OK, unlike the timeslices above, this one is selected as a more active capture, on August 19, 2019, though a few later periods are comparable:
OT: Watching for unusual activity can be interesting. For example, it appears one of the East African Rift volcanos may just have lit up in Ethiopia, probably Erta Ale (the most active continuously errupting volcano on Earth), though there are others in the general vicinity:
(All Nullschool links should be to date-anchored snapshots. You can expand the controls by tapping "Earth". "Now" will show current / most recently reported conditions.)
> I'd not done this until just now, and frankly, it appears that last year's smoke activity was actually greater
Someone linked to a NASA page a few days ago that said the same thing.
"As of August 16, 2019, satellite observations indicated that total fire activity in the Amazon basin was slightly below average in comparison to the past 15 years".
Since the news story broke they have updated it, saying it was updated to clarify sources yet they substantially changed what they have said:
"Editor’s Note: This story was updated on 22 August 2019 to clarify our data source."
The live page now reads:
"As of August 16, 2019, an analysis of NASA satellite data indicated that total fire activity across the Amazon basin this year has been close to the average in comparison to the past 15 years. "
I would have been a lot more honest to say "we incorrectly stated that fires were below average and have updated our position".
Though if you hit up January and look at SO4 emissions over the US and Europe, they're pretty terrifying as well.
Spotting wildfires by PM2.5 emissions is a part-time hobby, as is looking at MSLP and watching cyclonic storms developing. It looks as if the Atlantic hurricane season may start cooking off in the next week or so.
Not all channels have forecast values, but temps, winds, pressures, and precip do, so you can roll out a few days to see what the models are projecting. I've followed (and anticipated) most of the big storms over the past few years. Some false starts (a lot of swirls never really develop), but it was painfully obvious that Harvy and Florence were going to be massive storms.
In the Pacific, the unrelenting assaults on the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan, and mainland China are impressive.
This is something of a problem when a country with as many people as China and an economy as growth-oriented as China's is, uh, firing on all cylinders.
While wood smoke contributes a lot of PM2.5, other sources can as well -- dust over the Sahara (and much of the Atlantic), salt spray from hurricanes, and a few others, which aren't direction or at all combustion related.
CO tends to hover near urban areas -- you'll spot concentrations especially near Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago.
Sulfur Dioxide is also related to combustion, usually heavy fuel oils. Shipping traffic lights up especially, but so do industrial sources (generators), many volcanos, and some others I haven't worked out.
Nullschool doesn't have an IR channel, but Nasa's Modis can turn that up. There are generally national or regional wildfire websites, particularly for the US, Canada, and Australia, as well as California and other western US states.
(Fire activity so far this year has been pretty low in the US.)
If you spend a few weeks looking at data (or browsing through historical data), you get a pretty good idea of what patterns are typical.
Note also: some sensors / channels get recallibrated from time to time. There was a big adjustment in CO2 measurements a year or so back, which kind of freaked me out. Whilst CO2 concentrations are gradually increasing, they did not take a massive jump in the past 5 years, despite appearing to do so from the Nullschool history.
Also, as noted, sometimes stuff shows up that's not fires. The current Ethiopian volcano erruption would be a case in point (I think it's a volcano, seems very likely).
once you're in international waters, you get to burn whatever cheap dirty fuel you want, without regulation.
.. just another problem to add to the list
I am lead to believe that all the media attention in this past week to the problem, is a mix of political staging and sensacionalism. If it was really due to environmental concerns, the same responses we are seeing now, would have already happened many years ago under Lula and Dilma governments, given that the scale of the problem is the same.
>At this point in the fire season, MODIS active fire detections in 2019 are higher across the Brazilian Amazon than in any year since 2010. The state of Amazonas is on track for record fire activity in 2019.
The real problem here, is that some people are only interested in hearing nice words from whoever is presiding a country, not in what consist the actual concrete actions of a government.
Though it may be an ironic truth that Bolsanaro's intransigence could bring about greater action through the international pressure. Something of a political equivalent of Cunningham's Law.
But I agree, let's do it now, it really needs to be done as soon as possible, but, it can't depend its continuation and the countries it gets applied to, on whatever political wing is in power there.
The action needs to be global, with clear rules, and applied on every case, no exceptions.
Now is as good a time as any. What doesn't help the discussion is making it about the current administration when this is a problem that spans multiple administrations on both ends of the political spectrum.
It's the same for policies that span the Trump and Obama administrations (and probably the W Bush and Clinton administrations too).
Why do you think a small percentage increase on natural forest fires happening every year or so will have any kind of meaningful worldwide effect on temperature ?
Wildfires are a rapidly growing source of air pollution. The black + brown carbon aerosols from forest fires can heat the atmosphere significantly . We've seen that emissions from forest fires can effect climate on a global scale.
Climate models attempt to account for heating due to forest fires. But, I'm curious if it's possible that we've underestimated the severity of forest fires in those models.
Or, you could consider that earth climate has proven to be resistant enough to natural catastrophies for life to evolve for millions of years.
I’m not saying i’m right, but there’s no reason to have those huge headlines in news, as well as international threats to brazil just because this year’s fires are higher that last year ( but equal to those of a few years ago).
The Earth has never had a massive industrial human civilization on it until the last ~200 years.
(Yesterday, he said the Amazon should be monetized. With no other business plan besides a vague desire for increased ecotourism, the fires are the first step towards monetization.)
Mind sharing the source?
> “The fact is that laws and regulations that were enacted and used for the past 10 or 20 years were too restrictive to the development of Amazon areas. That is why people go over to the illegal activities, to the criminal activities, because they don’t have a space to do something within the law,” Ricardo Salles said in an interview with the Financial Times.
Brazil was a great project called the Amazon Fund. It would improve the lives of the people of the region, without destroying the forest. The fund was supported by Norway and German. The far-right government didn't like that money were not destined to the big agro-business and is closing it. Literally throwing money away.
Bolsonaro is unhappy with one such arrangement, covering a much smaller area: visitors pay a $50 fee, collected by the federal government, to enter the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha for a 10 day stay. He wants to the abolish the fee.
Given his general outlook on taxes, I don't see how tourism could fund preservation, except for increasing its scale to a predatory level.
https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/cotidiano/2019/07/taxa-de-fern... (in Portuguese)
I heard a quote a couple days ago that was along the libes of: A flight from NY to LA generates as much emissions as a person does all year.
But it wasn't clear to me if that the entire jet or one travel's slice of the jet; vs what they expend otherwise.
Of course, this destruction of rainforest is not a good thing, but it is not a new thing.
Start here: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/democraciaabierta/leaked-do...