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C. How Do Forest Fires Influence Atmospheric Chemistry & Climate?

Narrator: This is Science Today. How do forest fires influence atmospheric chemistry and climate? James Randerson, an associate professor of Earth System Science at the University of California, Irvine is working to find this out. Randerson's research seeks to improve our understanding of the global carbon cycle, including links between deforestation and fire and drought in the tropics.

Randerson: One of my lines of research is to understand how fire in the future may influence atmospheric chemistry and climate over the next several centuries. And it turns out that fire is a really important process and a tool used by humans for clearing land in the tropics. So, most of the deforestation today in the Amazon and also in equatorial Asia in Indonesia, East and West Kalimantan on the island of Borneo occurs via fire. And people take advantage of drought conditions to burn the forest. And so with future changes in air temperature and also potentially the drought for example, with El Nino, it's possible that fire could be used to a greater or lesser extent in clearing forests.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.