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  Information - SSS5 Wildfire effects on carbon storage in soil and vegetation: long-term gain or loss? (co-listed in NH)

Event Information
CONTEXT (see note below for post meeting get-together)

Globally more than 100 Million hectares of land are affected by wildfires every year. These fires emit an estimated 3.5 GT of carbon to the atmosphere each year, equivalent to ~40% of global emissions from fossil fuel burning. Wildfire emitted carbon can be taken up by the regrowing vegetation and, after full biomass recovery, a wildfire could be considered carbon-neutral. In addition, however, fire also changes some of the carbon stored in the biomass into forms that are more resistant to degradation such as soot, charcoal and other forms of black carbon (BC). BC can survive in soils and sediments for hundreds of years and complete wildfire-vegetation regrowth cycles could be considered to act as significant carbon sinks in some areas. Critical in determining the net carbon balance of any given fire are the biomass to BC conversion rate, its net redistribution and export (atmospheric and terrestrial), the breakdown rates of the various forms of BC present prior, during and after the fire, and the biomass regrowth attained before the next fire occurs.

This interdisciplinary session seeks to bring together scientists from the diverse fields of global carbon modelling; BC characterisation, transport and breakdown; soil carbon dynamics; post-fire soil erosion and bioturbation; and post-fire vegetation recovery. It aims to promote discussion of the latest findings, models and hypotheses that address the contentious question: 'Do current and predicted future wildfire regimes lead to long-term carbon gains or losses in soil and vegetation?'

We welcome evidence-based as well as more speculative contributions from all thematic fields and geographical regions relevant to this question.

The evening after the meeting, we will have a casual get-together in one of Vienna's famous cellar restaurants. Details to follow.

Preliminary List of Solicited Speakers
Philippa Ascough, St-Andrews University, UK
Bill de Groot, Canadian Forest Service
Heike Knicker, Technische Universität München, Germany
Elisa Lopez-Capel, Newcastle University, UK
John Raison, Ensis Forests and Environment, Australia
Cornelia Rumpel, INRA, France
Andrew Scott, Royal Holloway H University London
Alan Spessa, Reading University, UK


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