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Firescience.gov Friday Flash eNews

Issue 117 | January 16, 2015



Global Threat of Smoldering Peat Fires -

New Research

 

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Photo of smoldering peat fire in Florida
Photo: A smoldering peatland fire in shown in a drained lakebed in Florida, where the fire smoldered for months and consumed several feet of organic soil in some places. Desert Research Institute (source)

Global vulnerability of peatlands
 to fire and carbon loss

"In addition to the amount of carbon released, the types of emissions also can make smoldering fires of greater concern than fires where most of the combustion takes place in flames. Peat fires are an example of wildfires having effects far beyond the areas where they occur, and these effects can last for a very long time."

 - Adam Watts, Desert Research Institute

A recent paper from the journal Nature Geoscience outlines the threat of drying peatlands across the globe and their increased vulnerability to fire and carbon loss. The work was highlighted in a public release last week from the AAAS bulletin Eurekalert.org:

"Peatlands - which make up around three-percent of the Earth's land surface and store approximately 25-percent of the world's soil carbon - are deposits of plant material and organic matter mixed with soil that is too wet to support high levels of decomposition. Peatlands are found on all seven continents.

Already the largest fires on Earth in terms of their carbon footprint, these smoldering fires burn through thick layers of peat, built up over thousands of years, which blanket the ground in ecosystems ranging from the tropics to the arctic."

Read the story on Eurekalert.org
Access Nature Geoscience paper with payment
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