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Charcoal from wildfires pouring copiously into oceans via rivers

Last Updated: Saturday, April 20, 2013 - 16:03

Washington: Wild fires not only destroy millions of trees each year but the residue is transported to the sea by rivers which penetrates the carbon cycle, a recent study has revealed.

Team of researchers led by Thorsten Dittgar from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen and Rudolf Jaffe from Florida International University`s Southeast Environmental Research Center in Miami have proved that the earlier theory that the charcoal from wild fires gets decomposed in the soil is invalid.

Jaffe has said that if the charcoal was resistant and it remained in the soil, the soil colour would have turned black then. They have discovered that the charcoal from wildfires and combustion of biomass is, instead transported into wetlands, rivers and finally the oceans and the soluble charcoal mass forms ten percent of the total amount of dissolved organic carbon.

The international team included researchers from prestigious universities in Georgia, Massachusetts and Finland who worked to collect 174 water samples across the world, including Amazon, the Congo, and the Yangtze and Arctic sites.

Dittmar has said that the carbon chemistry in the oceans has given an estimate of about 25 million tonnes of dissolved charcoal transported from the land to sea each year.

Study implies that carbon sequestration techniques (the process of capture and long-term storage of atmospheric carbon dioxide) must be brought into practice to better understand the charcoal producing processes and its transport to the oceans.

Biochar addition to soils focuses on storing carbon by means of adding vegetation-derived charcoal to agricultural soils and is helpful in carbon sequestration.


First Published: Saturday, April 20, 2013 - 16:03

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