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According to the California Air Resources Board, in 2016 (the most recent year for which figures appear to available) California's total greenhouse gas emissions were 430 million metric tons CO2 equivalent, of which 83% were actual CO2.

In view of a record-breaking string of wildfires in California this year, I am wondering how significant the emission of greenhouse gases from such fires is, but I am having trouble finding relevant data on the internet. What I did find is a chart of daily CO2 emissions during large wildfires earlier this year, which appears to indicate up to an additional 1.5 million metric tons of CO2 emitted per day.

This suggests that in 2018, the total amount of CO2 emitted by wildfires in California might be in the 40 to 50 million metric ton range, or a sizeable portion of California's overall greenhouse gas emissions at around 10 percent. However, this is just a back-of-the-envelope guesstimate (my assumption: 40 to 50 days of major wildfires, at one million metric tons of CO2 equivalent per day), which may be completely flawed.

Are there any reliable (or at minimum, more carefully reasoned) estimates for CO2 emissions from California wildfires, in metric tons per annum? Useful numbers would be estimates for 2018, some other recent year, or for an average year.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm confused. You're asking what the estimates are for CO2 emission from the CA wildfires but then provide citations. Are you asking whether or not it's significant? $\endgroup$ – BillDOe Nov 14 '18 at 0:18
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    $\begingroup$ I am looking for the annual emissions from wildfires in California (e.g. for this year, or an average year). I will edit to make that clearer. I am trying to get an idea of whether increased wildfire activity is likely to interfere with California's greenhouse gas emission targets. $\endgroup$ – njuffa Nov 14 '18 at 0:36
  • $\begingroup$ the release of CO2 from a forrest fire will be removed by the regrowth of the area over time to a large degree. $\endgroup$ – trond hansen Nov 14 '18 at 6:55
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    $\begingroup$ @BillDOe I appreciate the effort but I have no idea what I would do with the results. We have a number of 430 million metric tons of CO₂ equivalent according to CA government statistics. How many million metric tons p.a. do wildfires add? For my guesstimate I simply assumed 40-50 days of major fires at 1 million metric tons per day (suggested by the graph I linked). My methodology may be completely flawed. $\endgroup$ – njuffa Nov 14 '18 at 21:18
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    $\begingroup$ @blacksmith37 To my knowledge, there is no slash & burn agriculture in California. My question is specifically about California. California is sticking to the Paris climate accord, and has challenging goals for the reduction of greenhouse gases. The role of electricity generation, use of fossil-fueled powered automobiles etc in this is well understood. What I am trying to get an idea about is what the contribution from wildfires is: minor and can be neglected, or reasonably significant and needs to be addressed. Wildfires are often triggered by human activity, e.g. issues with electrical lines $\endgroup$ – njuffa Nov 14 '18 at 23:13
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The California Air Resources board posted this PDF that includes emission estimates up to 2017, which were 37.1 million metric tons. If anyone is interested in related info, the search phrase I used was, "co2 estimates for california wildfires".

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