From: Hokkaido University
Published December 28, 2017 09:53 AM

Charcoal remains could accelerate CO2 emissions after forest fires

Charcoal remains after a forest fire help decompose fine roots in the soil, potentially accelerating CO2 emissions in boreal forests.

Boreal forests are a huge carbon sink. The fine roots, not only the leaves, stems and branches of trees, largely contribute to carbon accumulation. The Russian Far East has had an increasing number of forest fires, many of which are believed to be caused by global warming and human activities. Burning trees in forest fires naturally cause the emission of CO2, but little is known about the extent to which fire-derived charcoal influences ecosystem processes, such as soil organic matter decomposition.

The researchers, including Russian Academy of Science Senior Researcher Semyon Bryanin and Hokkaido University Assistant Professor Makoto Kobayashi, performed field litterbag experiments over 515 days, incubating fine larch roots with varying concentrations of charcoal in the soil. Mass loss of fine roots was measured in each of four conditions over nearly two years: control (no charcoal); mean charcoal content measured in the field; twice the mean charcoal content measured in the field; and charcoal content equal to the maximum concentration in the field.

Continue reading at Hokkaido University

Photo: A field in the Russian Far East after a forest fire. Due to the location of the trees, the concentration of charcoal differs from place to place.

Photo Credit: Bryanin S.V.

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