Most CO2 from Australia’s megafires has been offset by algal blooms

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Satellite view of Australian wildfires

Wildfires in Australia as seen from space on 4 January 2020

Geopix / Alamy

Most of the carbon dioxide released by Australia’s extreme wildfires of 2019-2020 has already been sucked out of the atmosphere by giant ocean algal blooms that were seeded by the nutrient-rich ash, a surprising new study suggests – though it is unclear how long this carbon capture will last.

Australia experienced its worst wildfires on record between November 2019 and January 2020. More than 70,000 square kilometres of bushland – an area the size of the Republic of Ireland – burned to the ground.

As the vegetation combusted, about 715 million tonnes of carbon dioxide were released into the atmosphere – roughly equivalent to the entire annual emissions of Germany. This led to fears that the fires would…

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