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Copernicus shows how summer wildfires develop around the northern hemisphere

Copernicus shows how summer wildfires develop around the northern hemisphere

The Copernican Atmospheric Monitoring Service monitors wildfires in the Northern Hemisphere at the start of the Arctic bushfire season. In Spain, France and Germany, some fires broke out in early summer. In addition, there have been wildfires in Alaska and the southwestern United States. The Competence Assurance Management System has been monitoring the New Mexico wildfires that have been going on since mid-April and still burning in early June.

Animation of daily global fire activity from January 1, 2022 to June 30, 2022. Source: Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service / ECMWF

researchers from Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS) He constantly monitors the Arctic wildfire season in the Northern Hemisphere, including the onset and development of fire seasons in the regions of Siberia and North America. The Efficiency Assurance Management System, implemented by the European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecast (ECMWF) on behalf of the European Commission, monitors fire intensity and emissions worldwide.


Total daily fire radiation impact GFASv1.2 between – 1-30 June 2022 for Spain (left) and estimated total carbon dioxide emissions for the month of June (right) for Spain from 2003 to 2022. Source: Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service / ECMWF

In Europe, CAMS monitored the development of major wildfires near the Costa del Sol in southern Spain, starting on June 8, 2022. At that time, 2,000 people were evacuated from the nearby town of Benahavis. GFAS data for Andalusia show extreme daily values ​​compared to the 2003-2021 average. CAMS has also tracked several other fires across Spain, including the high fire activity observed in Castilla y León province starting in mid-June. There, unusually high temperatures and strong winds contributed to the intensification of the fires. Copernicus not only monitors the intensity of fires, but also analyzes the broader effects of wildfires and smoke emissions, including air quality, which can cause various respiratory problems and other damage to health.

In the southwestern United States, significant wildfires erupted as a marked fire lasted in New Mexico from mid-April to early June 2022. Recently, CAMS observed an increased number of wildfires across Alaska throughout June 2022.

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Total daily GFASv1.2 fire radiation impact since June 1, 2022 (left) and total estimated CO2 emissions for June (right) for Alaska. Source: Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service / ECMWF

Every summer, CMS researchers study in particular fires in northern latitudes and in the arctic tundra. During the first weeks of June, an increasing number of fires, above the 2003-2021 average, developed in Alaska, spreading clouds of smoke across the Beaufort Sea toward the Arctic Ocean. Data on Arctic fires showed normal daily values ​​in June, but the EAC has been following closely when fires broke out in the Sakhar Republic and Chukotka in eastern Siberia in recent weeks.


Total daily fire radiation effect from April 1 to June 30 (left), with red bars appearing in 2022 and gray bars showing the average value for the period 2003-2021. Estimated total CO2 emissions for the same period (right) for the Urals and Siberian Federal District. Source: Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service / ECMWF

EMS data show that for the period between April 1 and June 30, the total estimated CO2 emissions from spring fires (including forest fires and open fires for agriculture) for the Ural and Siberian Federal Provinces, despite the intense start of the season, were close to average Previous years (2003-2020) for the season. Eastern Siberia usually experiences fires in summer rather than spring and is currently showing normal values ​​for the season.

Arctic fire season usually lasts from May to October with most activity between July and August. ECA data revealed an increase in fire activity measured in the observed thermal radiation (FRP) in the Arctic. EAS fire monitoring data shows that total CO2 emissions for this area are at similar values ​​for 2021 and the years measured before 2019, but with values ​​significantly lower than the record years 2020 and 2019.

Mark Barrington, chief researcher and wildfire expert at CAMS, comments: “Last summer, we observed widespread and persistent wildfires in the Northern Hemisphere. And we’re already observing fires that arose in spring and early summer. So so far, summer has developed naturally, Alaska: Although fire activity in the Northern Hemisphere has been fairly normal, we know that increased flammability in vegetation increased the risk of large wildfires, but at any scale it is difficult to predict smoke.

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The Efficiency Assurance Management System monitors global fires and estimates the emissions they cause through the Global Fire Absorption System (GFAS), using satellite and on-site data. The estimated emissions are combined with the ECMWF weather forecasting system, which models the evolution in terms of distribution and chemical composition, and thus can predict how global air quality will be affected up to five days in advance.

International Studyto detect changes in forest fires in Europe, linked to climate change, was developed by a group of European and international research institutions including the University of Barcelona, CREAF, IPCC, European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), Institute for Environmental Research and Sustainable Development of the National Observatory of Athens (Greece), European Space Agency (ESRIN), University of Salento (Italy) and University of Patras (Greece). Leading climatologists and experts on wildfire hazards and the forest environment (Joffer Karnicher, Andrés Allegria, Christos Gianakopoulos, Francesca de Giuseppe, Ana Carali, Nicos Kozias, Piero Lionello, Mark Barrington and Claudia Vitolo) participate. This study monitors and reveals the emergence of non-linear and rapidly changing climatic conditions with higher fire risks associated with climate change and the impacts of fires on communities.

Here is more information about this year’s fire season:

The Competence Assurance Management System global fire monitoring page is available here:

More about fire control in CAM forest fires – questions and answers:

Inquiries about satellite imagery contact: [email protected]

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About ECMWF and Copernicus

Copernicus is part of the European Union’s Space Programme, funded by the European Union, the flagship Earth observation programme. The company operates through six thematic services: Atmosphere, Marine, Land, Climate Change, Security and Emergencies. It offers freely available operational data and services that provide users with reliable and up-to-date information about our planet and its environment. The program is coordinated and managed by the European Commission and implemented in partnership with Member States, the European Space Agency (ESA), the European Organization for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMTSAT), the European Center for Medium Distance Forecasting (ECMWF), European Union agencies, Mercator Océan and more.

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ECMWF operates two services of the European Union’s Copernicus Earth Observation Program: the Copernicus Atmospheric Monitoring Service (CAMS) and the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). They also contribute to the Copernican Emergency Management Service (CEMS), which is implemented by the European Union Joint Research Council (JRC). The European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) is an independent intergovernmental organization supported by 35 countries. It is a 24/7 operational research and service institute that produces and publishes digital weather forecasts to its member states. These data are fully available to the national meteorological services of the member states. The supercomputer facility (and associated data archives) at the ECMWF is one of the largest of its kind in Europe and member states can use 25% of its capacity for their own purposes.

ECMWF has increased the number of places in which it does business. In addition to the main office in the UK and the computing center in Italy, new offices focusing on activities implemented in partnership with the European Union, such as Copernicus, will be located in Bonn, Germany starting in the summer of 2021.

Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service:

Copernicus Climate Change Service:
More information about Copernicus:


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Nuria Lopez
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Bjorn Mogensen
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