Fuels, not fire weather, control carbon emissions in boreal forest

Fuels, not fire weather, control carbon emissions in boreal forest
Rockets represent carbon stored in wood, trees, and soil in four main boreal forest regions. Though fire weather helps “ignite” the rockets, the amount of emissions each forest can produce is determined by fuel load (soil layers) and flammability (soil moisture). Credit: Victor Leshyk, Center for Ecosystem Science and Society

As climate warming stokes longer fire seasons and more severe fires in the North American boreal forest, being able to calculate how much carbon each fire burns grows more urgent. New research led by Northern Arizona University and published this week in Nature Climate Change suggests that how much carbon burns depends more on available fuels than on fire weather such as drought conditions, temperature, or rain. In a large retrospective study that stretched across Canada and Alaska, the international team of researchers found that the carbon stored belowground in soil organic matter was the most important predictor of how

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