Fire as a Negative Climate Feedback?
Mitra, S., Zimmerman, A.R., Hunsinger, G.B., Willard, D. and Dunn, J.C. 2009. A Holocene record of climate-driven shifts in coastal carbon sequestration. Geophysical Research Letters 36: 10.1029/2008GL036875.
Based on data obtained from a Chesapeake Bay sediment core collected just east of the Potomac River confluence, Mitra et al. compared down-core BC, non-BC organic carbon (OC) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentrations to identify large-scale combustion events that they compared to historical climate proxies "in order to examine the influence of climate on carbon sequestration in the coastal zone." The results revealed what the five researchers call "the first evidence of climate-controlled centennial- and millennial-scale oscillations in the sequestration of both BC and OC in the coastal zone."
Mitra et al. concluded that "while the increased incidence of wildfires that may occur with climate change could release additional CO2 to the atmosphere (Wiednmyer and Neff, 2007), this could be countered over the long term by increased soil or sediment sequestration of BC," and they say that "this sink for atmospheric CO2 into an estuarine environment would represent a negative climate feedback and may play a regulatory role in centennial and millennial-scale climate variability."
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Wiedinmyer, C. and Neff, J.C. 2007. Estimates of CO2 from fires in the United States: Implications for carbon management. Carbon Balance Management 2: 10.1186/1750-0680-2-10.