Friday, December 17, 2010

Ice and Fire

This has got them confused and I would not be optimistic about cultural sources.

A lot more CO was produced than during the past century.

For the moment, we lack an actual chart and can not look at detail.  I would like to see a lot produced in pre Columbian times.  That is because biochar making should have dominated South America and I cannot imagine a better way to make CO.

For the rest of the time, the steel axe came into its own and slash and burn took over.  That meant controlled forest burning to clear agricultural land every couple of years. Again a lot of CO was produced.

This century were better practice was possible saw the end of such methods and depopulation of land that demanded slash and burn pretty well took place.  This was likely because the expansion of arable land farming attracted labor.

In short, better efficiency drew in the labor and lowered the land under slash and burn.

What Can Ice Reveal About Fire

by Staff Writers

Washington DC (SPX) Dec 06, 2010

General view of the drill site D47 in Antarctica where the LGGE (Laboratoire du Glaciologie et Geophysique de l'Environnement) team drilled one of two cores used in the recent Southern Hemisphere biomass-burning study. The thermal drilling method the researchers used allowed them to collect a 12-centimeter-diameter core, from which carbon monoxide and its isotopes were measured at Stony Brook University. These analyses required close to one kilogram of ice per sample. Credit: Jerome Chappellaz, CNRS/LGGE.

Scientists studying a column of Antarctic ice spanning 650 years have found evidence for fluctuations in biomass burning--the consumption of wood, peat and other materials in wildfires, cooking fires and communal fires--in the Southern Hemisphere.

The record, focused primarily on carbon monoxide (CO), differs substantially from the record in the Northern Hemisphere, suggesting changes may be necessary for several leading climate models.
The research appeared online in Science Express.

The scientists studied variations in stable (non-radioactive, non-decaying) isotopes of carbon and oxygen, the first such measurements for carbon monoxide collected from ice-core samples.

"Combined with concentration measurements of CO, this record allows us to constrain the relative strength of biomass burning activity over the 650-year period in the Southern Hemisphere," said co-author and research lead John Mak, a geoscientist at SUNY Stony Brook.

"What we find is that the amount of biomass burning has changed significantly over that time period," Mak added, "and that biomass burning was in fact a significant source of CO during pre-industrial times."

The biomass burning trends indicated by the CO largely agree with Southern Hemisphere records tracking charcoal particles in sediments and with measurements of methane from trapped ice.

Unexpectedly, the researchers found that biomass burning appears to have been more prevalent 100 to 150 years ago than it was during the 20th century.

"While this is consistent with previous findings," added Mak, "there is still a common mis-perception that biomass burning rates are much higher today than in the past. This is significant since many researchers assume that human-induced biomass burning is much greater than 'naturally' occurring biomass burning.

"While this may still be the case--there were people around in the 18th century--the fact that today's rates of [Southern Hemisphere] biomass burning seem to be lower than one to two centuries ago calls for a re-evaluation of sources."

The research was supported by NSF grant OCE-0731406. The full reference for the paper is: Z. Wang, J. Chappellaz, K. Park, J.E. Mak, "Large variations in Southern Hemisphere biomass burning during the last 650 years", Science, Dec. 2, 2010

1 comment:

SteveK said...

It seems so long ago, but remember when Carbon Dioxide was the object pollutant in every combustive process? We had afterburners to make CO into CO2.