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California Fires Are Emitting Record Amounts of Carbon Dioxide

Satellite tracking shows emissions from wildfires spiking in Western U.S. states


Photographer: Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

Giant fires are releasing unprecedented amounts of carbon dioxide and particulate-matter pollution into the atmosphere in California and Oregon, leading to the first increase in wildfire emissions in the U.S. since 2015.

In some spots, the intensity of fires this year has been up to hundreds of times higher than the average from 2003 to 2019, according to a statement from Europe’s Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, which observes blazes and the resulting smoke from space. The thick layer of smoke from the fires has crossed the continental U.S., graying out New York skies, and the agency forecasts it will reach northern Europe later this week.