Texas Fires Have Emitted a Near-Record Amount of Carbon

Texas Fires Have Emitted a Near-Record Amount of Carbon

Article content

(Bloomberg) — Massive wildfires raging across Texas released a combined 920,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide in January and February, the second-largest release on record for that period.

In January, Texas fires pumped out 120,000 tons of carbon emissions, according to Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service data shared with Bloomberg Green. February saw even more fire activity, including the Smokehouse Creek Fire, the state’s largest fire on record. It and other blazes across the state, emitted a staggering 800,000 tons of carbon emissions in February, or roughly 28% of US fire-driven carbon emissions.

Article content

Comparing Texas fire-linked carbon emissions over the past two decades — the extent of Copernicus’s satellite record — 2024 ranks behind only 2008, when nearly 1.2 million tons of carbon were released over the first two months of the year. These calculations don’t include emissions from the fires burning in the first half of March, as dry, windy weather has continued to make fully containing fires a challenge.

Researchers made the calculation using the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service’s Global Fire Assimilation System, which “provides up-to-date information on the location, intensity, and emissions of wildfires, vegetation fires, and open burning around the world,” said Luis Carlos Palomino Forero, who works with the agency’s communications office. The monitoring service makes use of satellite instruments that can gauge how hot a fire is burning, which can in turn help estimate emissions.

Beyond the staggering carbon footprint, the Texas fires have killed more than 7,000 livestock animals, as well as burned down ranches and homes. They have also impacted land set aside for carbon credits, though how much CO2 was released from that land specifically remains to be seen. The Smokehouse Creek Fire, which Xcel Energy Inc. equipment likely played a role in igniting, has burned more than 1 million acres in Texas and Oklahoma. As of March 13, the record fire was 89% contained, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

See also  Playing the ‘pain trade’

Share this article in your social network

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *