Lecture: How much CO2 was emitted during the Dinara wildfires of 2017 and 2020?

About 126 km2 of Dinara mountain burned during wildfires in 2017 and 2020. The members of our project team from the Faculty of Agriculture University of Zagreb presented the estimated emissions of CO2 during these wildfires.
Dizajn bez naslova - 2022-07-05T093432.755-min

At the recent 57th Croatian & 17th International Symposium on Agriculture in Vodice, members of our project team from the Faculty of Agriculture University of Zagreb presented their estimate of carbon dioxide (CO2) released in the 2017 and 2020 wildfires on Dinara. The results of the study were presented during the poster session.

CO2, a greenhouse gas, is the largest contributing factor to global warming and in 2021 record CO2 emissions caused by wildfires were broken in many parts of the world, including the Mediterranean.

In this study, doc. dr. sc. Hrvoje Kutnjak, prof. dr. sc. Josip Leto and assistant Lucija Rajčić tried to estimate CO2 emissions from the biomass samples collected during our project at Dinara mountain by making an approximation of the total biomass burned during the two wildfires and multiplying this with the CO2 emission factor for biomass burning.

Using Sentinel-2 satellite images, the areas affected by  the August 2017 and April 2020 wildfires were identified. Using the geographic information system (GIS), the size of the area was measured. The area affected by the 2017 wildfire was estimated at 64 km2, and by the 2020 wildfire at around 62 km2.

Graph: Red – the area affected by the 2020 wildfire; yellow – 2017 wildfire

Biomass samples collected at the burned area as part of our project were used to approximate the total biomass burned in these wildfires. Finally, the estimated mass of emitted CO2 was obtained by multiplying the total biomass with the CO2 emission factor. It was estimated that more than 11,500 tons of CO2 were emitted in the 2017 wildfire, and approximately 11,000 tons of CO2 in the 2020 wildfire.

The calculated amounts aren’t exact, they are an approximation. This is the first time a similar method was used for grasslands in Croatia. The estimated emissions are just an approximation but we hope to refine the method in the future. A more detailed description of the study can be found on the poster below –



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