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Published November 17, 2006 | Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

The Impact of Boreal Forest Fire on Climate Warming


We report measurements and analysis of a boreal forest fire, integrating the effects of greenhouse gases, aerosols, black carbon deposition on snow and sea ice, and postfire changes in surface albedo. The net effect of all agents was to increase radiative forcing during the first year (34 ± 31 Watts per square meter of burned area), but to decrease radiative forcing when averaged over an 80-year fire cycle (–2.3 ± 2.2 Watts per square meter) because multidecadal increases in surface albedo had a larger impact than fire-emitted greenhouse gases. This result implies that future increases in boreal fire may not accelerate climate warming.

Additional Information

© 2006 American Association for the Advancement of Science. Received 5 July 2006; accepted 3 October 2006. This work was supported by NSF and NASA grants (OPP-0097439 and NNG04GK49G, respectively). We thank M. Prather for advice and C. Dunn, J. Henkelman, J. Raymond, and J. Garron for technical assistance.

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