Amazon Rain forest fire- The lungs of our planet is burning!
Forest fires are currently burning so intensely in the Amazon rainforest that smoke from the blaze has actually covered nearby cities in a dark haze.
Amazon as the world’s largest rainforest plays a crucial role in keeping earth’s carbon-dioxide levels in check. The plants and trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen back into the air in their process of photosynthesis.
This is the reason why Amazon rainforest which covers about 2.1 million square miles is often referred to as the lungs of our planet. The rainforest produces about 20 percent of the oxygen in our planet’s atmosphere.
The Amazonian dry season which is from July to October which increases in late September. During the rest of the year, the wetter weather in amazon minimizes the risk of fires at other times of the year.
Multiple information outlets are reporting that Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) reported a record of 72,843 fires this year. This is nearly double 2018’s total of about 40,000 wildfires which is an 80 percent increase from last year. About 9,000 of those forest fires have been spotted in the past week.
2019 has the highest number of wildfires observed in a single year. This is since researchers began keeping tracking the forest fire in 2013 – and there are still four months to go. INPE released data earlier this month which indicated that more forest has been cleared in Brazil this summer alone which is more than in the last three years combined.
Amazonas- the largest state in Brazil- declared a state of emergency on Monday.
The size of the Amazon Rain forest fire is still unclear. But it is sure that they had spread over several large Amazon states in northwest Brazil. NASA noted that the wildfires of Amazon Rainforest were large enough that they could be spotted from space On August 11. People in São Paulo had reported on social media that on Monday the sky had gone dark between 3 and 4 pm local time. The blazes have created a layer of smoke estimated to be 1.2 million square miles wide. The Amazon rain forest has shrunk by about 519 square miles i.e, 1,345 square kilometers which are even more than twice the area of Tokyo!
Thomas Lovejoy, National Geographic Explorer-at-Large and an ecologist said that this is without any question one of only two times that there have been fires like this in the Amazon Rain forest. He added that There’s no question that this Amazon Rainforest wildfire is a consequence or aftereffect of the recent uptick in deforestation.
Thomas Lovejoy also describes a cyclical system in which deforestation fuels forest loss by making the region drier and even spurring even more deforestation. Rains in the Amazon is generated by the rainforest itself. but when trees start disappearing, rainfall also declines. Ecologists and environmentalists worry that this could increasingly dry out the Amazon Rain forest and push it to a point of no return, where it will more resemble savannah than a rainforest.
He added that the Amazon has this tipping point because it makes half of its own rainfall and the Amazon has to be managed as a system. And any forest destroyed is a threat to biodiversity as well as the people who use that biodiversity. The overwhelming threat is that a lot of carbon goes into the atmosphere as a result of this.
Since the country’s current president Jair Bolsonaro was elected in 2018, Ecologists & Environmentalists have been raising the alarm about deforestation. A major part of his election campaign message called for opening up the Amazon for business, and since he’s been in power, he’s done just that.
Adriane Muelbert, an ecologist who’s studied how Amazon deforestation plays a role in climate change, said that in the previous years, wildfires were very much related to the lack of rain. but this year it has been quite moist this year which leads us to think that this is deforestation-driven fire, she added.
Lovejoy and Muelbert warn that wildfires of this scale could continue if deforestation and mismanaged forest clearing by fire continues. Such a massive loss of the Amazon Rain forest would be felt on a global scale.
Muelbert explained that it’s too early to calculate how much carbon might be emitted by this August’s wildfires. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report earlier this month saying the world doesn’t have the forest to spare if it wants to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. she added that it’s a tragedy and deforestation is a crime against the planet as well as a crime against humankind.
The hotter and warmer conditions because of climate change can allow blazes that crop up during the summer season to grow bigger than they otherwise might have. Global warming also worsens this condition and the frequency of wildfires around the world.
According to Climate Central, this year is going to be the third hottest on record globally. Last year was the fourth warmest where 2016 was the warmest followed by the year 2015 and 2017.
Dry and hotter conditions in the Northern Hemisphere are a consequence of this unprecedented warming. And this is because warming leads winter snow cover to melt very early and hotter air sucks away the moisture from trees and also from the soil. Decreased rainfall due to deforestation also makes forest prone to burning.
All these have combinedly created ideal conditions for wildfires in Brazil and elsewhere around the world!