Fires threaten the carbon storage function of boreal forests

2019/08/23 Galarraga Aiestaran, Ana - Elhuyar Zientzia Iturria: Elhuyar aldizkaria

Boreal forests are one of the main carbon deposits. Ed. Government of Canada

Northern forests are fundamental in the carbon cycle, as they store between 30 and 40% of land carbon, especially in soil. This cycle consists of releasing carbon into the atmosphere through fires every 70-200 years. However, the climate emergency has led to a progressive increase in the frequency of fires, with the consequent risk of forests moving from a carbon dioxide reservoir to a source, with the consequent increase in the greenhouse effect.

Researchers from the University of Northern Arizona, along with researchers from four Canadian universities and other institutions, have reached this conclusion. Under the management of the former, 211 forest areas have been analyzed. Among other things, they have calculated the carbon stored in the soil located on the mineral soil before and after the fires. In addition, 32 sites have determined the carbon stored using the carbon-14 technique.

Thus, they have come to the conclusion that, in case of fire, the old bushes resist the carbon stored for hundreds of years thanks to the protection of their ground layer on the surface. Not so in wooded areas under 60 years old.

According to all forecasts, researchers warn that fires will become increasingly frequent. They consider that measures should be taken to protect forests. The study has been published in the journal Nature.

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