Millions of years ago, fire swept across the planet, fueled by an oxygen-rich atmosphere in which even wet forests burned, according to new research by University of Colorado Boulder scientists.
The study, published today in Nature Geoscience, provides geochemical evidence showing that forest fires expanded dramatically, potentially burning up to 30 or 40 percent of global forests during a 100,000 year interval more than 90 million years ago. While today’s fires are exacerbated by dry conditions, they found that forest fires during this period increased even in wet regions due to changes in global climate.
“Studying this period in Earth’s history can shine light on how the modern and future Earth might behave under global change,” said F. Garrett Boudinot, lead author and recent PhD graduate in the Department of Geological Sciences.
Boudinot analyzed samples from a rock core that spans what is known as the Oceanic Anoxic Event