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Forest fire in the region around Valencia (picture from March)

Photo: Jose Miguel Fernandez / NurPhoto / IMAGO

The Northern Hemisphere has been exceptionally hard hit by wildfires this spring. This was announced by the EU atmospheric service CAMS (Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service). Record emissions were recorded in several regions.

According to Copernicus, the fires began very early this year. "Since March 23, CAMS scientists have been able to record significant fire activity in various regions of Spain," the statement said. Valencia was particularly affected. As a result, Spain recorded record levels of carbon emissions in May, the likes of which had only been recorded in 2012. The risk of forest fires has been exacerbated "by the high temperatures and drought that hit the continent last winter," it said.

Fires in Canada, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and some neighbouring regions of Russia were also more severe than average. In Canada, one of the highest emission levels ever recorded was recorded in May. The province of Saskatchewan was hit particularly hard. The previous emission record for this region was two megatons in May – this year it was exceeded by more than ten times (23 megatons). Record levels of fire emissions were also reached in the provinces of British Columbia, the Northwest Territories and Nova Scotia.

Meanwhile, in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, several wildfires are currently out of control. Thousands of people have been forced to leave their homes, and hundreds of buildings have been destroyed or damaged. You can read more about this here.

The Atmospheric Monitoring Service is one of several components of the European Union's Copernicus programme. Among other things, it provides data obtained from satellite images on the areas of atmosphere, oceans, land, climate change, security and energy.

For the analysis of forest fires and their consequences, Copernicus scientists have been evaluating satellite images of active fires since 2003. For example, heat emissions are measured, from which conclusions can be drawn about emissions.