Spain on track for worst fire season in over a decade

SPAIN is well on track for its worst year of wildfires since 2012, with 187,676 hectares of forest razed by flames so far this year.

According to the latest data from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS), which compiles data from the Copernicus satellite program (since 2006), the area burned to date already exceeds that of the whole of 2017, the second worst year in the historical series when 130,920 hectares were engulfed by the flames.

Additionally, the current figure so far this year is just 7,000 hectares shy of the total area burned in all of 2012, the worst year logged by EFFIS.

What’s more, the most devastating fires so far this year continue to raze in parts of the country’s central and western regions.

In fact, so far this year Spain has lost more land to wildfire than any other European country. It is followed by Romania (149,264ha), Portugal (44,839), France (39,904), Croatia (30,889) and Italy (24,698).

Roberto Garcia, a risk analyst for Spain’s military emergency units (UME) said the season “looks bad.”

“As we stand, the data will probably equal or overtake that of 2012,” he said, especially because no rain is expected in the short term.

According to Garcia the wildfire season this year had taken authorities by ‘surprise’.

“We did not think it would be like this, but the two heat waves recorded so far have been brutal” he added.

In addition to devastating thousands of hectares of forest and agricultural land, the forest fires in Spain between June 1 and July 18 have emitted more CO2 into the atmosphere than in any previous year (between 2003-2021) during the same period—data revealed by the Global Fire Data Assimilation System (GFAS) of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (the European Union’s Earth Observation Programme).

These estimates are based on satellite observations of wildfire locations and fire radiative power (FRP) and can indicate the intensity and related emissions of fires.

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