The Truth is Powerful

Northern Forest Fires Could Accelerate Climate Change

The study focused on wooded peatland and forests like the landscape pictured here near the town of Wrigley in Canada’s Northwest Territories. This drone imagery was taken by then-BU PhD candidate Jonathan Wang during June 2017. Courtesy of Jonathan Wang BU researchers used NASA satellite imaging data to analyze 30 years of Earth’s northern forests—and found that fires are increasingly hampering forests’ ability to capture and store atmospheric carbon

New research indicates that the computer-based models currently used to simulate how Earth’s climate will change in the future underestimate the impact that forest fires and drying climate are having on the world’s northernmost forests, which make up the largest forest biome on the planet. It’s an important understanding because these northern forests absorb a significant amount of Earth’s carbon dioxide.

The finding, reached by studying 30 years of the world’s forests using NASA satellite imaging data, suggests that forests won’t be able to sequester as much carbon as previously expected, making efforts to reduce carbon emissions all the more urgent.

“Fires are intensifying, and when forests burn, carbon is released into the atmosphere,” says Boston University environmental earth scientist Mark Friedl , senior author on the study published in Nature Climate […]

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