There is a new paper of revlevance to the role of landscape change on the climate system (and thanks to Marcel Severijnen to alerting us to!). The paper is
Uwe Ballhorna, Florian Siegerta, Mike Mason and Suwido Limin, 2009: Derivation of burn scar depths and estimation of carbon emissions with LIDAR in Indonesian peatlands. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. November 25, 2009, doi: 10.1073/pnas.0906457106
The abstract reads
“During the 1997/98 El Niño-induced drought peatland fires in Indonesia may have released 13–40% of the mean annual global carbon emissions from fossil fuels. One major unknown in current peatland emission estimations is how much peat is combusted by fire. Using a light detection and ranging data set acquired in Central Kalimantan, Borneo, in 2007, one year after the severe peatland fires of 2006, we determined an average burn scar depth of 0.33 ± 0.18 m. Based on this result and the burned area determined from satellite imagery, we estimate that within the 2.79 million hectare study area 49.15 ± 26.81 megatons of carbon were released during the 2006 El Niño episode. This represents 10–33% of all carbon emissions from transport for the European Community in the year 2006. These emissions, originating from a comparatively small area (approximately 13% of the Indonesian peatland area), underline the importance of peat fires in the context of green house gas emissions and global warming. In the past decade severe peat fires occurred during El Niño-induced droughts in 1997, 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2009. Currently, this important source of carbon emissions is not included in IPCC carbon accounting or in regional and global carbon emission models. Precise spatial measurements of peat combusted and potential avoided emissions in tropical peat swamp forests will also be required for future emission trading schemes in the framework of Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation in developing countries.”
The abstract includes the text
“Currently, this important source of carbon emissions is not included in IPCC carbon accounting or in regional and global carbon emission models.”
This is in addition to the failure of the 2009 IPCC assessment to consider, as just two examples, the effect of this biomass burning on the generation of atmospheric aerosols and their effect on precipitation (e.g. see) and of the alteration of the surface fluxes of heat and moisture into the atmosphere with a resultant alteration of large scale atmospheric patterns (e.g. see).