Brevia

Fire-Derived Charcoal Causes Loss of Forest Humus

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Science  02 May 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5876, pp. 629
DOI: 10.1126/science.1154960

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Abstract

Fire is a global driver of carbon storage and converts a substantial proportion of plant biomass to black carbon (for example, charcoal), which remains in the soil for thousands of years. Black carbon is therefore often proposed as an important long-term sink of soil carbon. We ran a 10-year experiment in each of three boreal forest stands to show that fire-derived charcoal promotes loss of forest humus and that this is associated with enhancement of microbial activity by charcoal. This result shows that charcoal-induced losses of belowground carbon in forests can partially offset the benefits of charcoal as a long-term carbon sink.

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