Does Burning Wood Contribute To Global Warming

Does Burning Wood Contribute To Global Warming – Wood fires are tempting during the snow, but it may be better to burn gas, oil or coal and leave the trees to absorb CO2. Photograph: Nine OK/Getty Images

Than gas, oil and even coal for the same amount of heat, so to make the climate neutral we need an increase in forests

Does Burning Wood Contribute To Global Warming

Does Burning Wood Contribute To Global Warming

With snow on the ground, many people will be huddled around a wood fire, but researchers wonder if burning wood is really climate neutral. Burning wood is not CO

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Free; it releases carbon, stored over previous decades, in a rapid burst. For an equal amount of heat or electricity, it releases more CO

In the air from burning wood. This must be reabsorbed as the trees grow. For the trunks of mature Canadian forests, it could take more than 100 years before atmospheric CO.

It is less than the alternative scenario of burning a fossil fuel and leaving the trees in the forest.

This is important to prevent climate tipping points such as an ice-free Arctic or changes in monsoon patterns before wider decarbonisation can be achieved following the trajectories of the Paris and Kyoto agreements. Critics of this view say that the trees were never allowed to grow, but instead were cut down for wood or paper. It seems that burning wood is not climate neutral in the short term and requires an increase in forested area to be climate neutral in the long term. Our new study published in Nature’s Scientific Reports sheds light on the many ways in which residential wood burning in Norway affects the climate.

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The wood stove in my house. Norwegians love their firewood and wood stoves. Out of 2.5 million households in Norway, 1.2 million use wood for heating. (The Norwegian “kosefyring” roughly translates to “fire with wood for the purpose of relaxation and pleasure”.)

Therefore, I stated that burning wood causes more warming and cooling of the climate than you might think. Many questions then ask to be answered: How is the heating done? How is the cooling done? And if you subtract the cooling from the heating, what is the net effect? And could this net effect be more significant than you think?

I will address these questions but, before going into the specifics, let me introduce the two fundamental and general ways that humans affect the climate.

Does Burning Wood Contribute To Global Warming

It absorbs thermal radiation, thus reducing the amount of radiation that the Earth can emit to space. The same is true for other greenhouse gases, such as water vapor and methane, but the magnitude and duration of the effects vary from one gas to another. The greenhouse effect falls into the B category.

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Now we need an example for category A. Since the example for category B was related to emissions, we use another example for category A.

As you can see, the trees look dark (dark green). This is because the trees absorb most of the sunlight, instead of reflecting it, (the green part of the light is reflected, which is why the trees look green and not black).

The snow-covered forest path in the picture, on the other hand, looks bright. This is because snow mostly reflects, rather than absorbs, light.

We can assume that humans cleared the trees and vegetation to create the forest track. Consequently, a smaller fraction of the surface is dark (dark green) and a larger fraction is bright; and less energy from the sun is absorbed and more sunlight is reflected into space. Reflecting the sunlight back means that it does not heat the Earth and the end result is the cooling climate – and here we have our example of a category A effect.

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Next, we turn our attention to the weather effects associated with wood stoves, keeping in mind the above categories A and B.

From burning renewable biomass such as wood can contribute to climate warming. Trees – being renewable – reabsorb CO

, but because they need time to do so, it can be a temporary warming effect. Although it is different to that of the CO fossil

Does Burning Wood Contribute To Global Warming

The harvesting of wood from forests typically leads to an increase in the amount of sunlight that is reflected from the Earth’s surface, and hence the cooling of the climate, in the same way as described in our example of the first forest track. This is the beginning of category A.

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Wood stoves emit tiny particles called black carbon. Black carbon gets its name because it absorbs visible light (hence “black”) and is pure carbon. By absorbing sunlight, black carbon in the air exerts a climate warming effect that belongs to our category A. But there is more to black carbon: when it is deposited on snow, the snow becomes darker and loses some of its ability to reflect sunlight—another category A warming effect. In addition, black carbon interacts with clouds and thus influences the climate system in complex ways.

Black carbon has a sibling, called organic carbon. Unlike black carbon that absorbs sunlight, organic carbon particles in the air scatter sunlight into space. In other words, organic carbon results in a climate cooling effect, which belongs to category A.

The figure below shows the estimated climate effects associated with residential wood stoves in Norway in 2010. I will say more about the figure itself, but first a quick word about the comprehensive analysis that supports it: Key elements of the analysis include an original set of issues. factors for different classes of wood stoves, a mapping of wood harvest, wood stove burning supply and activity, and a unique set of global warming potential (GWP) values. Our study combines these elements to analyze the climate impacts of wood burning on a national scale. GWP is simply a measure that can be used to study the climate effects of various pollutants and climate-altering activities from a common unit, CO

As you can see from the figure, the climate warming effects of black carbon amount to 1.6 billion tonnes (Mt) of CO

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E, which makes black carbon the single most important cause of global warming impacts in our analysis. Another major cause of warming is CO

And a lot? To get a sense of the magnitude of this number, consider Norway’s current total CO emissions.

. Also, keep in mind Norway’s commitment under the Paris Agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions substantially (40% by 2030). Given this perspective, I would say 3.1MtCO

Does Burning Wood Contribute To Global Warming

Fortunately, as the figure shows, changes in land surface and organic carbon come to the rescue, bringing considerable climate cooling effects. More precisely, we estimate the combined cooling effects of 1.7MtCO

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E. In other words, the combined cooling offsets more than half of the combined heating effects of wood stoves.

Where does that leave us in terms of net effect (heating minus cooling)? The answer is 3.1-1.7 = 1.4MtCO

Finally, our findings show a complex picture, and are subject to great uncertainty. For example, how you operate the stove has an effect, as does where you collect the wood. Additional results that reveal these and more complexities can be found in our paper – what could be more interesting reading than you might think?

Arvesen, A. Cherubini, F., del Alamo Serrano, G., Astrup, R., Becidan, M., Belbo, H., Goile, F., Grytli, T., Guest, G., Lausselet, C. , Rørstad, P.-K., Rydså, L., Seljeskog, M., Skreiberg, Ø., Vezhapparambu, S., Strømman, A.H. 2018. Cooling aerosols and changes in albedo against warming from CO2 and black carbon from forest bioenergy. in Norway.

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The research was a collaboration between the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (), SINTEF Energy Research, Norwegian Bioeconomy Research Institute (NIBIO), Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). It was funded by the Research Council of Norway through the Bioenergetic Innovation Center (CenBio). In the most financially successful version of biomass technology to date, huge forests in North America are cut down and all the ground vegetation is compressed into dense chips. which looks like the feed pellets available at the corner pet store. After it has been transformed into these generic pellets, wood is relatively easy to use as a carbon substitute: wood (or any other organic material) is made to behave as much as possible like pieces of carbon very small and broken. a furnace Image of logs and wood pellets courtesy of VisionTIR

In the 2015 Paris climate agreement, 197 countries agreed to limit warming to “well below 2 degrees Celsius” and to aim for 1.5 degrees Celsius. To have even a roughly 50 percent chance of achieving this goal, net global greenhouse gas emissions must be cut by nearly half from 2010 levels this decade and reach zero by mid-century (UNFCCC 2021). Consequently, at least 140 countries, which account for about 90 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, have committed to reaching net zero emissions by the middle of this century (Climate Action Tracker 2021). But few have specified how it will be done. A growing number, including the European Union, the United Kingdom and the United States, have declared that wood bioenergy is carbon neutral, allowing it to exclude the carbon dioxide generated by burning bioenergy of wood in its greenhouse gas accounting. Many subsidize wood bioenergy to help reach their renewable energy targets (Norton et

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