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Updated August 8th, 2021 at 13:07 IST

Drought, data raise fears of Brazil forest fires

Severe drought and early data are raising concerns that this forest fire season in Brazil will see the same high levels of destruction recorded in the past two years, despite efforts to tamp down the blazes.

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Severe drought and early data are raising concerns that this forest fire season in Brazil will see the same high levels of destruction recorded in the past two years, despite efforts to tamp down the blazes.

With Brazil's forest fire season under way, the government space agency that uses satellites to monitor fires reported more area burned in the month of July than in any July since 2016, according to data released Thursday.

The same was true for June.

Most Brazilian blazes are manmade, often started illegally by land-grabbers clearing forest for cattle or crops.

Fires tend to begin increasing in June and peak in September, according to historical data.

They can easily get out of control during the dry season, burning large swaths of forest to the ground.

Brazil is home to the world's largest rainforest and tropical wetlands — the Amazon and Pantanal — which saw dramatic fires in 2019 and 2020, respectively, that caused the greatest annual forest loss since 2015.

That drew global criticism of the response from the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has repeatedly called for development of the region.

This year, it's the Cerrado savanna stretching across Brazil's center-west region that is suffering more than usual.

An area almost as big as Connecticut and New Jersey burned there in the first seven months of 2021.

Scientists from the Amazon Environmental Research Institute and the Woodwell Climate Research Center showcased the damage caused by a fire which had scorched an area near Aguaçu in Mato Grosso state.

Earlier studies showed the Amazon absorbs about 2 billion of the 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide the world emits into the atmosphere each year, making it an essential part of the global effort to curb climate change.

But a study led by Brazil's Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, published in Nature on July 14 — spanning ten years and involving nearly 600 flyovers — found the dry season's intensification and increased deforestation had caused more fires and higher carbon emissions.

The southeastern part of the Amazon, particularly ravaged by logging, has become a net source of carbon.

 

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Published August 8th, 2021 at 13:07 IST

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