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Fire and climate: Biomass burning recorded in ice and lake cores

Author(s): Kehrwald N. | Zangrando R. | Gambaro A. | Barbante C.

Journal: EPJ Web of Conferences
ISSN 2100-014X

Volume: 9;
Start page: 105;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Human activities including fossil fuel burning are currently altering the global climate system at rates faster than ever recorded in geologic time. Biomass burning causes carbon dioxide emissions equal to 50% of those from fossil-fuel combustion and so are highly likely to influence future climate change. However, aerosols continue to be one of the least understood aspects of the modern climate system and even less is known about their past influence. Ice and lake core proxy records provide quantifiable data on past fire regimes across most spatial and temporal scales. Some monosaccharide anhydrides such as levoglucosan, mannosan and galactosan are used as specific molecular markers for biomass burning as they can only be produced by combustion processes at temperatures greater than 300 °C and are present in both ice and lake cores. Other paleofire tracers such as microcharcoal, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and pollen records augment the fire history derived at single sites or across regions. As both pyrochemical and climate parameters are determined from the same depth and time within the ice or sediment matrix, the multi-proxy nature of ice and lake cores presents an ideal material to investigate the links between fires and climate change.
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