IUFRO Spotlight #10
Peatland ecosystems cover only 2-3% of the earth's land surface, but in the boreal they make up 20-30% of the forest region and average 20-30% of the area burned annually. Those peatlands store an estimated 30% of the world's terrestrial carbon – some 300 billion metric tons. Typically they are fairly wet areas, but when they dry and burn – usually in severe drought years or from some drainage activities – they have the potential to flip from carbon sink to carbon source as they release huge amounts of greenhouse gases. A recent Canadian Forest Service bulletin: Peatland Fires and Carbon Emissions (Frontline Express 50) noted that some fire researchers from Canada, the U.S. and Russia – where fire in those countries' boreal forests is a significant activity – have begun looking more closely into boreal peatlands. This Spotlight issue presents two of the most recent studies in this context: "Examining the utility of the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System in boreal peatlands" (J.M Waddington et al) and "Experimental drying intensifies burning and carbon losses in a northern peatland" (M.R. Turetsky et al).
Spotlight #10: PDF for download
- spotlight10-peatland-fires.pdf212 K