Fires Fuel Climate Change, More Fires
Scientists warn that fires must be included in climate models
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 24, 2009 5:30 AM CDT
A fire erupts in a pine tree plantation northeast of Melbourne, Australia, earlier this year.   (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
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(Newser) – Climate change calculations have missed the blazingly obvious, according to a new report from a global group of scientists. They warn that forest fires—generally considered to be a part of natural cycles—are a key driver of climate change, releasing vast amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and creating conditions that spawn bigger and more frequent fires.

Human use of fire to clear forests accounts for nearly a fifth of greenhouse gas emissions in history, say the researchers, who warn that "megafires" like the ones that scorched Australia this year are becoming more frequent. They are calling for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to start including fires in its climate models.