Charcoal in Burned Forests No Way to Store Carbon [News]

Thursday, May 1, 2008 - 18:35 in Earth & Climate

The boreal forests in the north of Canada, Russia and other countries that ring the Arctic burn every summer after lightning strikes their towering trees, releasing tons of carbon dioxide into the air as they turn to ash and charcoal in the flames. Some scientists have argued, however, that this climate-changing natural disaster might not be all bad from a global warming perspective: Charcoal is a stable way to store carbon in the ground, where the carbon-rich charcoal can safely stay for hundreds if not thousands of years. Or at least that's the theory of so-called biochar. A new study published today in Science shows that such charcoal may not keep as much carbon in the soil as previously believed. [More]

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