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Forest fires

Jesús San-Miguel-Ayanz, Rainer Steinbrecher, Antonio Ferreiro, Mike Woodfield, David Simpson

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Overview. This chapter describes emissions from (naturally or man-induced) burning of non-managed and managed forests and other vegetation, excluding agricultural burning of stubble, etc. This includes domestic fires (fuel wood-, crop residue-, dung and charcoal burning) as well as open vegetation fires (forest, shrub- , grass- and cropland burning). According to Barbosa (2006, personal communication), 95 % of the forest fires in the Mediterranean region are related to human impact (negligence, arson, etc.). For the boreal area, Molicone et al. (2006) estimate 87 % of forest fires to be caused by human influence. Only a small portion of open vegetation fires is caused by natural phenomena such as lightning (Koppman et al., 2005).
The relative contribution of (open and domestic) biomass burning emissions to the global annual emission for CO is ~ 25 %, for NOx ~ 18 % and for non-methane volatile organic compounds (NMVOC) and CH4 ~ 6 % (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 2001). In Europe however, the contribution to total emissions is much lower, since the vast majority of fires occur in tropical regions.
Several studies on global emissions from open vegetation fires carried out by Van der Werf et al. (2006), Hoelzemann et al. (2004) and Ito and Penner (2004) give emissions of 2 000 Tg C, 1 700 Tg C and 1 300 Tg C respectively for the year 2000 (cited in van der Werf et al., 2006). The inter-annual variation can be high. Van der Werf et al. (2006) calculated a minimum of 2 000 Tg C for the year 2000 and a maximum of 3 200 Tg C for 1998 within the eight-year period 1997–2004. Only a small part of these emissions 8–25 Tg C, with a minimum in 1998 and the maximum in the year 2000, take place in Europe.
According to the Corinair90 inventory, forest fires account for 0.2 % of European NOx emissions, 0.5 % of NMVOC, 1.9 % of CO emissions and 0.1 % of NH3 emissions. The contribution to the total emissions is small, but uncertainties are very large. Since fires occur over short periods of time, emissions may significantly contribute to ground-level concentrations during these events. According to the European Fire Information System ( ), the CO2 emissions during recent catastrophic fires in Greece was in the range of 4.5 Mt until end of August 2007, representing some 4 % of the total annual CO2 emissions of this country. A similar share of fire emissions to total emissions of CO2 were also observed in Portugal during heavy fire campaigns in 2003 and 2005 (Barbosa et al. 2006). For August 2003, the contribution of wildfire emissions in South Europe of observed particulate levels of PM2.5 appeared to be comparable to anthropogenic emissions, with significant impact on radiative properties in large areas of Europe (Hodzic et al. 2007).

In EMEP/EEA air pollutant emission inventory guidebook 2016 - Technical guidance to prepare national emission inventories, Vol. 21/2016 (2016), 11.B, 
Key: INRMM:14448330



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