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Estimating carbon emissions from forest fires during 1980 to 1999 in Daxing’an Mountain, China

H Hu
Q Guo
X Lv
L Sun


A large number of carbons are released into the atmosphere from forest fires per year, which has a significant influence on carbon cycle and storage. In this study, we examined the spatio-temporal patterns of forest fires from 1980 to 1999 in Daxing’an Mountain of Heilongjiang Province, China and estimated the carbon emissions from forest fires based on both field research and laboratory experiments. The results show that (1) burned areas of larch (Larix gmelinii Rupr.), Mongolian pine (Pinus sylvestris L. var. mongolica Litv.), white birch (Betula platyphylla Suk.), mixed broadleaved-conifer (L. gmelinii & B. platyphylla) and Mongolian oak (Quercus mongolica Fish.) forests were 437 947, 20 939, 142 527, 168 532 and 1 375 hm2 during 1980 to 1999 period, respectively. The fuel consumed based on these forests were 29.0 to 46.5, 16.7 to 26.5, 18.1 to 26.5, 31.9 to 51.4 and 24.5 to 40.3 Mg hm-2, respectively; (2) the total carbon emissions from forest fires of the forest types in Daxing’an Mountain was 3.8 to 5.9 Tg during this period. Two thirds of the total amounts were caused by larch forests, while 1/4 came from white birch forests and the rest from other forest types; (3) the amounts of CO2 released from forest fires for these 20 years were 13.9 to 21.6 Tg. The estimates were incomplete or could be low because the emissions from the burning of dead organic matter (litter, dead wood, etc.) were not included in this calculation and therefore, the net carbon balance was calculated.

Key words: biomass, carbonaceous gases, CO2 emissions, forest fires.

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eISSN: 1684-5315