Context of Brutal Heatwave in India, Fort McMurray


Brutal Heatwave Hits 122 F in India // Published on May 20, 2016

Vast regions of NW India and E Pakistan have been savaged by temperatures over 50 C (or 122 F) for an extended period of time. India has been experiencing a brutal drought for the last 3 years which has forced many farmers into the streets of the main cities, where they are exposed to this heatwave. Casualties will be horrendous.

Our emissions have changed the chemistry of the atmosphere and oceans. Global temperatures are spiking ever faster upwards.
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A different subject, but certainly relates.  Very potent:  ‘The Fort McMurray fire’s stunning pulse of carbon to the atmosphere

The Fort McMurray wildfire, which seems likely to be the costliest disaster in Canada’s history, continues to grow. According to the government of Alberta, as of Friday morning it had burned over 500,000 hectares of land, or more than 1.2 million acres. … Taylor said the fire already ranks in the top six or seven largest fires seen in Canada in the satellite era, starting in 1970, when observations became most reliable. Especially since this is occurring in May, early in the wildfire season, that’s pretty incredible.

And so is another detail about this fire — the amount of carbon that it is apparently pouring into the atmosphere. … He said he generally estimates that for every hectare of forest land consumed in a fire like this one, about 170 tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent emissions — so dubbed because they actually include not only carbon dioxide but also methane and nitrous oxide, two other greenhouse gases — head into the atmosphere. That would mean that this single fire has contributed — for a rough estimate — some 85 million tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent emissions. The fire has also, at least temporarily, worsened the entire nation of Canada’s emissions of carbon dioxide.

In 2014, the last year for which statistics are currently available, Canada emitted a net of 732 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent into the atmosphere. This single wildfire thus may have given off enough carbon to account for over 10 percent of Canada’s total emissions. … A little over a week ago, when the fire had consumed just over 200,000 hectares, Kurz estimated, in an interview with the Edmonton Journal, that it was already at 5 percent of Canada’s total emissions.

I asked Guido van der Werf, a fire emissions researcher at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam who charted the incredible pulses of carbon to the atmosphere due to Indonesian peat fires last year, how much he thought the emissions might be from the Fort McMurray fire. Assuming a million acres burned — a smaller number than the one above — van der Werf came up with 35 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents, a similarly smaller figure but also one that’s roughly in the same ballpark.

… It all serves to underscore why, in an age of megafires, we have to worry not only about the damage they can do to human lives and infrastructure, but also how they fit into the broader climate system.’


About paulbeckwith

Well known climate science educator; Part-time Geography professor (climatology, oceanography, environmental issues), University of Ottawa. Physicist. Engineer. Master's Degree in Science in Laser Optics, Bachelors of Engineering, in Engineering Physics. Won Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario gold medal. Also interested in investment and start-ups in climate solutions, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Avid chess player, and likes restoring old homes. Married with children.
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1 Response to Context of Brutal Heatwave in India, Fort McMurray

  1. Thomas Clayton says:

    Please keep up your courageous work at all costs.


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