2017 NOAA Study Recommended Fewer Controlled Burns, Because Climate Change

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

According to the study authors, frequent controlled burns reduce the ability of some forests to sequester CO2.

More frequent fires reduce soil carbon and fertility, slowing the regrowth of plants
Long-term effects of repeated fires on soils found to have significant impacts on carbon storage not previously considered in global greenhouse gas estimates.

BY SARAH DEROUIN
DECEMBER 11, 2017

Frequent burning over decades reduces the amount of carbon and nitrogen stored in soils of savanna grasslands and broadleaf forests, in part because reduced plant growth means less carbon being drawn out of the atmosphere and stored in plant matter. These findings by a Stanford-led team are important for worldwide understanding of fire impacts on the carbon cycle and for modeling the future of global carbon and climate change.

“Almost all the synthesis studies done to date conclude that fire has relatively little effect on soils, but in large part, researchers focused on a single fire event,” said Adam Pellegrini, a post-doctoral scholar at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences and lead author on the study.

Focusing on three different types of landscapes – savanna grasslands, broadleaf forests, and needleleaf forests – from 48 sites covering multiple continents, the researchers compiled records of soil fertility after fires over up to 65 years. Comparing the changes in soil nutrients over time, they found that in frequently burned areas in savannas and broadleaf forests, there was a 36 percent reduction in soil carbon and a 38 percent reduction in nitrogen compared to areas that were protected from fire. Conifer forests did not show this reduction in soil carbon and nitrogen after fires.

The researchers stressed that they are not advocating fire suppression. “Fires often increase the diversity of plants and reduce the risk that a landscape will have a high-intensity fire,” said Pellegrini.

Instead, in a time where climate change creates drier and warmer conditions that favor fire, fire managers and conservationists may have to shift their management strategies.

Managers may need to take a longer view of how much and how often they choose to burn systems,” said Jackson.

Adam Pellegrini is also a NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellow. Rob Jackson is also a senior fellow at the Precourt Institute for Energy. Additional Stanford co-authors include postdoctoral scholar Anders Ahlström. The paper also includes authors from Lund University, University of Minnesota, Western Sydney University, Yale University, University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, Kansas State University, and the University of Utah, University of California, Irvine.

The study was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Department of Energy.

Read more: https://news.stanford.edu/2017/12/11/decades-increased-burning-depletes-soil-carbon/

The abstract of the study;

Fire frequency drives decadal changes in soil carbon and nitrogen and ecosystem productivity
Adam F. A. PellegriniAnders AhlströmSarah E. HobbiePeter B. ReichLars P. NieradzikA. Carla StaverBryant C. ScharenbrochAri JumpponenWilliam R. L. AndereggJames T. Randerson
 & Robert B. JacksonNature volume 553, pages 194–198 (11 January 2018)

Fire frequency is changing globally and is projected to affect the global carbon cycle and climate1,2,3. However, uncertainty about how ecosystems respond to decadal changes in fire frequency makes it difficult to predict the effects of altered fire regimes on the carbon cycle; for instance, we do not fully understand the long-term effects of fire on soil carbon and nutrient storage, or whether fire-driven nutrient losses limit plant productivity4,5. Here we analyse data from 48 sites in savanna grasslands, broadleaf forests and needleleaf forests spanning up to 65 years, during which time the frequency of fires was altered at each site. We find that frequently burned plots experienced a decline in surface soil carbon and nitrogen that was non-saturating through time, having 36 per cent (±13 per cent) less carbon and 38 per cent (±16 per cent) less nitrogen after 64 years than plots that were protected from fire. Fire-driven carbon and nitrogen losses were substantial in savanna grasslands and broadleaf forests, but not in temperate and boreal needleleaf forests. We also observe comparable soil carbon and nitrogen losses in an independent field dataset and in dynamic model simulations of global vegetation. The model study predicts that the long-term losses of soil nitrogen that result from more frequent burning may in turn decrease the carbon that is sequestered by net primary productivity by about 20 per cent of the total carbon that is emitted from burning biomass over the same period. Furthermore, we estimate that the effects of changes in fire frequency on ecosystem carbon storage may be 30 per cent too low if they do not include multidecadal changes in soil carbon, especially in drier savanna grasslands. Future changes in fire frequency may shift ecosystem carbon storage by changing soil carbon pools and nitrogen limitations on plant growth, altering the carbon sink capacity of frequently burning savanna grasslands and broadleaf forests.

Read more: https://www.nature.com/articles/nature24668

Sadly the full study is paywalled, but I think we get the idea.

The model used in the 2017 NOAA study may have been defective. A 2018 NSF study made the surprise discovery that 26% of bio-available nitrogen in soil comes from rocks, so model based estimates of fire driven nitrogen depletion based on theories prevalent in 2017 were likely based on incorrect assumptions. The 2018 study authors explicitly mentioned the impact of their discovery on carbon sequestration and soil nitrogen models.

Frequent controlled burns improve human safety and reduce the intensity of fires, by reducing available fuel loads.

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120 thoughts on “2017 NOAA Study Recommended Fewer Controlled Burns, Because Climate Change

  1. Of course fewer controlled burns equals bigger fires… go figure. I wish they would pay me a small fee to pump out a study or two!

    • But in order for YOUR study to be valid, you’ll have to reference 35 prior studies. Your study has to be built upon prior studies, built upon prior studies. Don’t be silly, you’ll never need to do any actual field or lab testing for your study. Nope, just compile prior studies, with really detailed footnotes.

      The REAL world cannot be understood without … Studies. Lots and lots of Studies, which conclude exactly what your patrons want you to say.

      • How often are the previous studies quoted given a good critical assessment, especially as many seem to be based on unstable foundations.
        Get out into the field, and not just once, and do some proper empirical research, not just models.

        • Get out into the field, and not just once, and do some proper empirical research, not just models.

          Which is exactly what they did.

          • And then they made assumptions and modeled outcomes:

            “…The model study predicts that the long-term losses of soil nitrogen that result from more frequent burning may in turn decrease the carbon that is sequestered…”

          • and once again the distorted priorities lead to distorted conclusions. If you analyse everything only in terms of “carbon sequestration” or atmospheric CO2 and that is your sole or over-riding criterion for what you should do you devalue and ignore all other outcomes be they good/desirable or disastrous: nothing else matters.

            So you end up with catastrophic results ( like massive fires ) in the present in the hope that you actions may reduce global temps in a hundred years by a few mircokelvin.

            This is what happens when you turn OCD into a world religion.

          • Did they consider the end result of not doing controlled burns, fires that not only take out the undergrowth, but also take out all the mature trees? Talk about losing CO2 sequestrion.

          • My formatting for clarity.

            “Focusing on three different types of landscapes – savanna grasslands, broadleaf forests, and needleleaf forests – from 48 sites covering multiple continents,

            the researchers compiled records of soil fertility after fires over up to 65 years.

            Comparing the changes in soil nutrients over time, they found that in frequently burned areas in savannas and broadleaf forests, there was a 36 percent reduction in soil carbon and a 38 percent reduction in nitrogen compared to areas that were protected from fire.

            Conifer forests did not show this reduction in soil carbon and nitrogen after fires.”

            Three types of landscapes: Over multiple Continents
            1) Savannas
            2) Broadleaf forests
            3) needleleaf forests (presumably, these are the conifer forests they reference).

            “Conifer forests did not show this reduction in soil carbon and nitrogen after fires”; leaving an unknown number of sites on unknown continents providing an unknown number of sites losing carbon and nitrogen… Right.

            “the researchers compiled records of soil fertility after fires over up to 65 years.”; What does this sentence mean?
            1) That this research has been ongoing for 65 years?
            2) That researchers for this study found records that are 65 years old? If so, just how were these samples taken? Did the researchers in all studies combined use the exact same method of sampling and from identical locations. e.g. samples are not taken from hillsides in heavy rain locations?

            “Comparing the changes in soil nutrients over time”; there is that “over time” statement again. It is looking more and more like the above researchers used samples and/or sampled data from other research.

            How is this possible? Not that the researchers used data from other research; but did they use ALL data from every study that collected the data they are using?
            If not, somebody is making cherry pie again and pulling our legs.

            NOAA’s involvement certainly doesn’t provide any certainty that the research is properly conducted and calculated.

          • ATheoK November 11, 2019 at 5:09 pm
            “Conifer forests did not show this reduction in soil carbon and nitrogen after fires”; leaving an unknown number of sites on unknown continents providing an unknown number of sites losing carbon and nitrogen… Right.

            Suggest you look at their fig 1
            However it’s clear from your comments that you have not read the paper and are just trolling.

        • Why would you need to go to the field to determine that more and more controlled burns cause soil nitrogen depletion….with the logical extension being the same result as burning down the whole forest ?

  2. “According to the study authors, frequent controlled burns reduce the ability of some forests to sequester CO2”

    So climate change does have something to do with those fires after all. Except that it’s climate action and not climate change that did it.

    It is climate science not climate change that the planet needs saving from.

    • Exactly Chaamjamal !

      Most of regional climate related changes since 40 years are less extrem weather events and a greening planet with a decrease in desertic regions including the sub Saharian region.

      The only actual climate related threat to humanity are all those complete idiotic climate change policies the consequences of which are mainly ecological disasters and global impoverishment.

      • Califirnia fires are a good example–brainwash the masses that primitive conditions must dominate and you end up with forest fires as your dominant energy supply, not electricity!

        Ayn Rand never would have believed it would come to this!

    • Chaamjamal,
      Small correction to your observation conclusion.
      It is Mann made climate science not climate change the planet needs saving from.

    • Chaamjamal November 10, 2019 at 10:50 pm

      “According to the study authors, frequent controlled burns reduce the ability of some forests to sequester CO2” so the studiists should wise up the forests to get their CO2 direct from the farmer’s demand stores.

  3. “2017 NOAA Study Recommended Fewer Controlled Burns, Because Climate Change”

    It wasn’t an NOAA study. It was, as they say, a Stanford-led study, for which NOAA provided some funding. You can read it here. It makes no recommendation about fewer controlled burns because climate change or otherwise. It simply describes the effects of burn frequency on carbon and nitrogen in the soil, which is a useful thing to know. They conclude:

    “In conclusion, our results reveal the sensitivity of surface soils to fire and the substantial effects that changes in soil pools have on long-term ecosystem C exchange. The large empirical and conservative model based estimates of soil C changes suggest that present estimates of fire-driven C losses, which primarily consider losses from plant biomass pools, may substantially underestimate the effects of long-term trends in fire frequencies in savanna grasslands and broadleaf forests in particular. Our findings suggest that future alterations in fire regimes in savanna grasslands and broadleaf forests may shift ecosystem C storage by changing soil C levels and changing the N limitation of plant growth, altering the carbon-sink capacity of these fire-prone ecosystems.”

    They aren’t saying you should or shouldn’t burn more or less often. They are just pointing out something that happens.

    • Gee, pure brilliance.
      The more a forested area burns, the lower it’s ability to sink carbon goes.
      Fires alter the Carbon sink capacity…
      Go Figure…

      • “The more a forested area burns, the lower it’s ability to sink carbon goes.”
        That isn’t obvious and needs to be confirmed by observation. These scientists made the observations, and are reporting them. It’s what scientists do.

        • Not in an Australian eucalypt forest – a major very hot fire in an area which has not had a hazard reduction burn for many years takes the soil back to mineral earth, removing almost all the soil carbon and killing many trees, while a cool season hazard reduction surface burn just removes surface leaf litter, twigs etc, leaving the soil structure untouched, including the critters that live in burrows, tree hollows etc.
          Wildfire in eucalypt forest which has not been hazard reduced for many years is an unstoppable inferno as is happening in at least 2 Australian states at present.

    • Hang on, that doesn’t support Eric’s anti NOAA, preaching to the choir narrative: stupid alarmists in ivory towers using grant money to make fires worse. You know, that NOAA. Wait, never mind.

    • You’re splitting hairs Nick.

      Instead, in a time where climate change creates drier and warmer conditions that favor fire, fire managers and conservationists may have to shift their management strategies.

      “Managers may need to take a longer view of how much and how often they choose to burn systems,” said [Robert] Jackson. <-- one of the authors

      • And
        “The researchers stressed that they are not advocating fire suppression. “Fires often increase the diversity of plants and reduce the risk that a landscape will have a high-intensity fire,” said Pellegrini.”

        There isn’t anywhere a recommendation that controlled burning be curtailed.

        • The more ‘carbon’ in a forest, the more fuel load. You need to collect it and/or let burn, otherwise you will be in trouble. Burn often, burn little, do forestry to pick dry wood away and limit forest growth near Paradise where people live.

          They played with the idea burning is not good in the supposed drier climate. California has been executing the idea. It is not enough to have some small print there.

          Sink and storage sizes are different things, mind you. And in the urban wild interface, we don’t care about the sink. We care about the safety.

        • I disagree with that entirely, at least in subtropical Queensland.

          I knew a number of small offshore islands which had an entirely different flora to most islands & the mainland. It was not typical fire prone Australian vegetation. An 80+ year old ranger told me it was islands that had never burned that had this flora. He was a very cleaver bloke.

          This was fairly well confirmed when a couple of those islands did burn, due to clumsy campers. The vegetation which returned over the next decade or so was very similar to the fire prone rest & the mainland

    • “a Stanford-led study, for which NOAA provided some funding”
      Willie Soon…Smithsonian…Kettle…Black….

    • Perhaps we could ask scientist like Mickey Mouse and Albus Dumbledore to make a decision they are world class scientists.

      Now lets get the bottom line, regardless what some clueless idiots studied, if there actually is a drying climate because of climate change you are going to have to do more controlled burns … end of story. You can talk about supplementing or assist areas where the burning has detrimental effects but you are not going to change the burning practice because that is governed by human life and property losses (with the exception of California).

    • “Our findings suggest that future alterations in fire regimes in savanna grasslands and broadleaf forests may shift ecosystem C storage by changing soil C levels and changing the N limitation of plant growth, altering the carbon-sink capacity of these fire-prone ecosystems.””

      The Flint Hills of Kansas can be considered a savanna with lots of grassland interspersed with dense amounts of trees along rivers and streams.

      From almost 60 years of observations I can tell you that spring burning of the grassland ENHANCES the ability of the prairie to sink carbon. Without the burning the old pasture forms a mulch that is eventually thick enough to squelch grass growth. Not burning also allows weeds to take over a large amount of area. This area of the US is subject to burns caused by spring rains with lightning as well as man-made burns.

      My own backyard (about 3 acres) consisting of mainly fescue with some clover) exhibits the very same conditions. Un-burned, untreated areas sooner or later chokes itself out over the years requiring discing and replanting. I can ameliorate this by judicious use of a plug areator which allows water and bacteria access to the mulch in order to break it down. As a historic note the vast herds of buffalo that used to roam the savanna did the same thing because their sharp hooves acted as natural areators to the prairie mulch.

      This is just one more example of scientists not understanding at all what they are studying. In order to decide there is an impact to burning they *should* have had control areas that would be observed over a long period of time and compared with test areas observed over the same period of time. Instead they seem to have come up with a *projection* of what they *thought* the control areas would have for conditions with no burning and compared that *projection* with what they actually found in the test areas.

      Places like Kansas State University *have* vast areas of pastureland that they have observed over decades, both control acres and test acreage where they can observe what happens . They still recommend regular burning of prairie grasslands.

      These scientists at Stanford could benefit from going here:https://www.kansasbeef.org/on-the-farm/why-do-ranchers-burn-their-pastures. They might actually learn something.

      • In the South African savanna where their referenced savanna field work (they didn’t do the field work, just looked at the data from other studies in “meta-analysis”) is from, without the periodic grassland burns, the area would become a closed forest. The fires limit the number of young trees that grow to adulthood, thus maintaining the balance between forest and grass. Removing fire from that environment (good luck with that) would be disastrous for the flora and fauna that call that region home. As it has been in much the same configuration for most of the last 8 million years (maybe longer – I haven’t read all the studies to pin it down better), it is obvious that the loss of carbon and nitrogen (or C and N as they called it throughout the report) is completely irrelevant to the health of the ecosystem.

        Somehow, I don’t think that is the conclusion they wanted me to draw from all their hand waving.

        • OweninGA November 11, 2019 at 7:49 am
          Removing fire from that environment (good luck with that) would be disastrous for the flora and fauna that call that region home.

          Who is suggesting that?

          it is obvious that the loss of carbon and nitrogen (or C and N as they called it throughout the report) is completely irrelevant to the health of the ecosystem.

          Really, fertilizer is unnecessary?

          Somehow, I don’t think that is the conclusion they wanted me to draw from all their hand waving.

          No I expect that they hoped you’d actually read the paper and understand what they’d done.

      • I suggest you actually read the paper before you comment, then you might actually learn something.
        For example:
        Tim Gorman November 11, 2019 at 5:57 am
        This is just one more example of scientists not understanding at all what they are studying. In order to decide there is an impact to burning they *should* have had control areas that would be observed over a long period of time and compared with test areas observed over the same period of time.

        You mean what they described in the paper?
        “Sites generally contained plots that either experienced elevated fire frequency (4.3 ± 0.6 times more than the estimated historical mean for that ecosystem, calculated over the length of the study) or were protected from fire (complete fire exclusion in all but one case), which we refer to hereafter as ‘elevated’ and ‘protected’ treatments, respectively.”

        With reference to the research at Kansas State University that you refer to, they say:
        “Every pasture, every farm and every ranch is different, and this means every decision and approach to prescribed burning is different. Since pasture management is a highly individualized and data-driven process, farmers and ranchers rely upon their land’s history and the data they collect to decide when, where and how often they should conduct prescribed burns. Not every pasture is burned every year. Ranchers will make the decision based on multiple factors.”
        Which is exactly what these authors are recommending, not surprising since one of the authors is from KSU!

        • Phil,

          The abstract says: “Here we analyse data from 48 sites” and “spanning up to 65 years”. There is no indication that Stanford actually collected any of this data, only that they “analyzed” it. It addition, The abstract says: “or were protected from fire (complete fire exclusion in all but one case)”

          As the site I referenced points out, savanna that is totally protected from fire sooner or later turns into something else. The built-up mulch destroys the grass growth and/or trees take over the land. And how were sites completely protected from fire, including natural burns? This, to me at least, indicates that these plots were small and not exposed to the natural environment!

          And exactly what does “4.3 ± 0.6 times more than the estimated historical mean for that ecosystem, calculated over the length of the study” really mean? What *is* the historical mean? How was the historical mean calculated over a time base from 65 years ago. Did those test plots have annual surveys over the past 65 years to determine how often natural fire might have impacted them?

          “Not every pasture is burned every year.”

          I never said annual burning was required for all pastures. If you’ll actually read what I wrote instead of just shooting from the hip you might notice I said: “Un-burned, untreated areas sooner or later chokes itself out over the years requiring discing and replanting.”. Look closely at the words “over the years”.

          “Fire-driven carbon and nitrogen losses were substantial in savanna grasslands and broadleaf forests, but not in temperate and boreal needleleaf forests.”

          When the authors state in their abstract that UNBURNED savannas have higher nutrient density than savannas which suffer burns it is hard to take away anything other than the conclusion that the authors are saying savannas should be protected from fire!

          That is *not* what the KState excerpt states. I think it is *you* that needs to read more closely.

          • Tim Gorman November 12, 2019 at 10:19 am
            Phil,

            The abstract says: “Here we analyse data from 48 sites” and “spanning up to 65 years”. There is no indication that Stanford actually collected any of this data, only that they “analyzed” it. It addition, The abstract says: “or were protected from fire (complete fire exclusion in all but one case)”

            Actually there is, certain authors are acknowledged as having collected data, if you read the paper you’ll see that the lead author collected data in Brazil, ref 9. Also one of the authors who collected data is the author from KSA.

            As the site I referenced points out, savanna that is totally protected from fire sooner or later turns into something else. The built-up mulch destroys the grass growth and/or trees take over the land. And how were sites completely protected from fire, including natural burns? This, to me at least, indicates that these plots were small and not exposed to the natural environment!

            Suggest you read the paper it’s described there.

            And exactly what does “4.3 ± 0.6 times more than the estimated historical mean for that ecosystem, calculated over the length of the study” really mean? What *is* the historical mean? How was the historical mean calculated over a time base from 65 years ago. Did those test plots have annual surveys over the past 65 years to determine how often natural fire might have impacted them?

            That appears to be how they do it, for example for the Brazil study:

            “Not every pasture is burned every year.”

            I never said annual burning was required for all pastures. If you’ll actually read what I wrote instead of just shooting from the hip you might notice I said: “Un-burned, untreated areas sooner or later chokes itself out over the years requiring discing and replanting.”. Look closely at the words “over the years”.

            That is an exact quote from the KSA site you referred to.

            “Fire-driven carbon and nitrogen losses were substantial in savanna grasslands and broadleaf forests, but not in temperate and boreal needleleaf forests.”

            When the authors state in their abstract that UNBURNED savannas have higher nutrient density than savannas which suffer burns it is hard to take away anything other than the conclusion that the authors are saying savannas should be protected from fire!

            No, they’re saying that frequent fires deplete the nutrients, that is the subject of their study, at no time do they say savannas should be protected from fires. They suggest that depletion of nutrients should be a consideration in management of the ecosystems.

            That is *not* what the KState excerpt states. I think it is *you* that needs to read more closely.
            The quote is an exact cut and paste from your link.

          • Phil,

            “Actually there is, certain authors are acknowledged as having collected data, if you read the paper you’ll see that the lead author collected data in Brazil, ref 9. Also one of the authors who collected data is the author from KSA.”

            “Collected data”? What in Pete’s name does that mean? Did he actually go out into the field over the time period of 65 years and actually do test digs in control and test sites? Or was the collected data actually accumulated from others test data? And did that test data actually span 65 years?

            “Suggest you read the paper it’s described there.”

            *YOU* are the one trying support the study. *YOU* need to provide the quotes from the study showing how they protected test sites from *all* burning!

            “That appears to be how they do it, for example for the Brazil study:”

            That *APPEARS” to be how they do it? I’m sorry, “appearances” are simply not sufficient to keep the data from being questioned. Details such as collection dates, rainfall in the past 30 days, equipment used for collection, analyzing equipment and procedures, etc for EVERY DATA POINT needs to be provided!

            “No, they’re saying that frequent fires deplete the nutrients, that is the subject of their study, at no time do they say savannas should be protected from fires. ”

            Then why dd they use sites completely protected from burning as their baseline for comparison? Frequent fires IN THE SAME SPOT don’t usually happen in savannas like in the central US. Lightning has a hard time setting new growth on fire over a large area. It is older growth, dead growth, and accumulated mulch which burns. And once that fuel is burned it takes at least several months for it to be replaced. By that time you would be in the fall/winter season when lighting storms don’t generally occur. All of this makes the term “frequent fires” questionable at best!

            “The quote is an exact cut and paste from your link.”

            And the quote you used did *NOT* say that burning savanna results in decreased nutrients in the soil. The entire article was justifying the ROUTINE burning of savanna to make it better. I gave you the quotes from the article showing this. All you are doing now is throwing out meaningless excuses for why the results of that study, as laid out in their abstract, should not be subjected to intense criticism based on empirical observations of the central plains savanna over 60 years!

          • You’re a joke, you can’t be bothered to read the papers and just make stuff up.

            “Collected data”? What in Pete’s name does that mean? Did he actually go out into the field over the time period of 65 years and actually do test digs in control and test sites? Or was the collected data actually accumulated from others test data? And did that test data actually span 65 years?

            Because you haven’t read the paper you completely misunderstand and misrepresent what’ s been done. He did actually go out and do test digs in control and test sites for which the fire history was known in that case since before 1972 (to 2014).

          • Phil,

            “Because you haven’t read the paper you completely misunderstand and misrepresent what’ s been done. He did actually go out and do test digs in control and test sites for which the fire history was known in that case
            since before 1972 (to 2014).”

            I spent the $9 to actually access the paper. Here is probably the most pertinent quote:

            “Here, we evaluate these interactions by examining how long-term differences in fire frequency alter soil C and nutrients and accompa-nying shifts in plant productivity, using three approaches. First, we use a meta-analysis of data from 48 sites worldwide (Fig. 1a) to test how frequent burning alters soil C and nutrients over time spans as long as 65 years. We then evaluate our results using an independent dataset from 16 additional field sites, which were not replicated at the site scale (and thus were not included in the meta-analysis), but collec-tively are valuable given the high number of sites and standardized data collection. Finally, we use our results to validate an individual-based dynamic global vegetation model (the DGVM LPJ-GUESS-BLAZE) for quantifying the effect of fire-driven nutrient losses on vegetation productivity and the degree to which soils contribute to ecosystem-level changes in C.”

            Meta-data is data that describes the actual data. It is *not* directly collected and therefore the collection and analysis processes are *not* known and the data is therefore questionable. The data collected from the 16 sites in the southeast US were *not* included in the meta-data analysis. Their integration into the study data thus becomes questionable as well. In fact they call these 16 sites a “high number of sites” which is obviously not the case.

            Here is another excerpt: “We next assessed the potential generality of fire-induced soil C and N losses changing ecosystem C storage and productivity by perform-ing simulations across savanna grasslands globally; these ecosystems represent about 70% of actual global burned area7 (see Supplementary Information). When all locations were burned at a biennial frequency, declines in soil C stocks were equivalent to 40% of the changes in plant biomass C stocks, on average, with the relative contribution of declines in soil C being greatest in driest locations”

            SIMULATIONS? Their conclusions are based on SIMULATIONS? Simulations validated against questionable data? What a joke!

            The study doesn’t even describe how protected sites were protected from fire. No natural savanna is protected from fire. All natural savanna is subject to fire sooner or later. Thus using “protected” sites as a baseline for comparison takes the study out of real-world consideration, especially if the protection protocol is unknown.

            The conclusions of this study is based on the output of a MODEL. A model supposedly validated against questionable data – thus making the model questionable as well.This was *not* original research using original data collected in a repeatable, describable manner using repeatable, describable analysis methods. It is thus totally understandable why the conclusions of this paper simply don’t match real-world empirical observations.

            You can no longer use the argumentative fallacy of “you didn’t read the paper”. You will need to provide actual, logical support for your stance that this study is accurate and reproducible and uses actual, original data collection and analysis. The study is not based on the real world and therefore its conclusions don’t apply to the real world, only to the fantasy world of “simulation”.

          • Tim Gorman November 13, 2019 at 9:49 am
            Phil,

            “Because you haven’t read the paper you completely misunderstand and misrepresent what’ s been done. He did actually go out and do test digs in control and test sites for which the fire history was known in that case
            since before 1972 (to 2014).”

            I spent the $9 to actually access the paper. Here is probably the most pertinent quote:

            Glad you finally read the paper, although why you paid for it rather than access it for free at the site I pointed out to you is strange.
            Meta-data is data that describes the actual data. It is *not* directly collected and therefore the collection and analysis processes are *not* known and the data is therefore questionable.

            Unfortunately you still don’t understand it. They did not use ‘Meta-data’ they did a Meta analysis which is a totally different animal.

            SIMULATIONS? Their conclusions are based on SIMULATIONS? Simulations validated against questionable data? What a joke!

            They used the actual data to check an existing model and found it wanting, their conclusions are based on experimental data. Their conclusion regarding the model was:
            “Like our empirical data, the model showed losses (albeit smaller ones) of total soil C and N in response to frequent burning in both broadleaf forests and savanna grasslands (Supplementary Figs 8 and 9). However, the model also simulated net losses of soil C and N from needleleaf sites, unlike the empirical data (Supplementary Fig. 10), illustrating the need for further model development and additional data”.
            Emphasis mine.

            The conclusions of this study is based on the output of a MODEL.

            No they weren’t.

            You can no longer use the argumentative fallacy of “you didn’t read the paper”.
            It wasn’t a ‘fallacy’, you hadn’t read it and as result you were misrepresenting it!

            You will need to provide actual, logical support for your stance that this study is accurate and reproducible and uses actual, original data collection and analysis. The study is not based on the real world and therefore its conclusions don’t apply to the real world, only to the fantasy world of “simulation”.

            I have, it is based on the ‘real world’, it’s based on actual data collected from 48 sites around the world, 20m from N America, 6 from S America, 4 from Eurasia, 10 from Africa and 8 from Australia.

          • “Unfortunately you still don’t understand it. They did not use ‘Meta-data’ they did a Meta analysis which is a totally different animal.”

            There are significant problems with meta-analysis. These include protocols used for data collection in the studies being combined, and the variation in study methods, non-homogeneity of populations across studies, and outcome development in the various studies. All of which are the exact problems I’ve already noted.

            Since it is doubtful that these study authors had direct access to the samples to perform standardized analyses then they *had* to depend on the analyses produced by the various studies. That kind of data *is* metadata.

            My objections still stand.

            “No they weren’t.”

            Of course they were. I gave you the quote from the study itself! Here it is again: ” Finally, we use our results to validate an individual-based dynamic global vegetation model (the DGVM LPJ-GUESS-BLAZE) for quantifying the effect of fire-driven nutrient losses on vegetation productivity and the degree to which soils contribute to ecosystem-level changes in C.”

            Note carefully the words “individual-based dynamic global vegetation model (….) for quantifying the effect of fire-driven nutrient losses”.

            You can employ the argumentative fallacy of Argument by Dismissal all you want but it won’t invalidate the direct quote from the study.

            “It wasn’t a ‘fallacy’, you hadn’t read it and as result you were misrepresenting it!”

            Of course it was a fallacy! It’s called Appeal to Ignorance. It’s claiming I can’t disprove the argument because I am ignorant of the study in question. I don’t need to have read the study in order to question its results based on the problems with using meta-data or meta-analysis.

            “I have, it is based on the ‘real world’, it’s based on actual data collected from 48 sites around the world, 20m from N America, 6 from S America, 4 from Eurasia, 10 from Africa and 8 from Australia.”

            It’s not based on direct data, it is based on META-data. All I have to do in order to invalidate the study is to provide a real-world example that is not in accordance with the result of the claim. I have given you my 3 acre backyard which chokes itself out if the dead growth and mulch is not removed on a regular basis. I have given you the central plains of the US, as documented in the link I provided, where regular burning is necessary to maintain the health of the savanna. And I have pointed out that there are *NO* “protected areas in a real-world savanna, thus invalidating the assumption in the study that a “protected” area can be used as a study baseline.

            You can whine all you want about these truths but they *are* still the truth. As with so many other studies done today, this study is an analysis of results obtained from other studies with no comprehensive analysis of the biases of the component studies, the errors in the component studies, and are based on models which don’t have any relationship to the real-world.

    • “…It wasn’t an NOAA study. It was, as they say, a Stanford-led study, for which NOAA provided some funding…”

      The lead author, Adam Pellegrini is also a NOAA Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellow.

      “…It makes no recommendation about fewer controlled burns because climate change or otherwise…They aren’t saying you should or shouldn’t burn more or less often. They are just pointing out something that happens…”

      In the same way that a study that associates smoking with higher rates of heart attacks and lung cancer risn’t advocating that people stop smoking. It just points-out something that happens.

    • It wasn’t an NOAA study

      do be so disingenuous, it does you no favors. From the first quoted article:

      The study was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. …

      That makes it a NOAA study.

  4. Bloody hell !
    You don’t need to burn the entire forest or grassland to protect infrastructure and people…just strategic areas.
    If there is a loss in carbon sequestration in the areas of protective burns there is a gain in the neighboring protected areas where carbon sequestered in unburnt vegetation, buildings and infrastructure, animals and people is not released into the atmosphere.

  5. IF the forest and scrub lands are not controlled burnt to reduce the fuel loading then the fuel load of dead wood and brush builds up and every flammable thing that is in the way of the fire will get burnt .
    This often includes homes and buildings and everything inside them .
    Thia is another rubbish study that should be dispatch direct to the fire.
    I wonder how close these researchers have ever been to a bush fire ?
    New South Wales in Australia is experiencing very bad bush fires this month.
    Australia has always had bush fires and the Gum trees (eucalyptus ) are very volatile .
    Those in charge don’t want to control burn as they did after very bad fatal fires in the 1930s .

    • What was amusing during the week was the deputy PM calling out “woke capital city greenies” and the greens leader for linking climate change to the current bushfires.

      The greens and a few left media obviously thought it was a win showing how out of touch the major parties were on climate change. However polls are showing it was a clear win for the politicians as there is a clear target and anger directed at inner city greens.

      It schism started showing up on the press radar back in 2015 the Australian in an article summed them up quite neatly

      The Inner City Greens conscience is limited to their social standing. If I wear this fashionable idea will it impress my friends at dinner parties?

      Now it is becoming unfashionable with the rest of Australia and they are getting abused by the rest of Australia it will be interesting how committed they are.

  6. What I would like to know is how many of these fires, especially in Australia this year, were started by arsonists and lightening? I know one was reported a few weeks back in northern New South Wales.

    • It doesn’t matter how they started. The fact is that if something had not started them this year, then next year or the year after, with more vegetation and an even more ferocious fire. Those responsible are those who are not undertaking or who are preventing or lobbying against cool season hazard reduction burns which need to take place every 5-10 years to prevent uncontrollable wildfires. The Australian landscape has had that regime for thousands of years before the loony greenies arrived on the scene

      • If these fires are perpetrated as being driven and caused by “climate change” then that is a lie is they were stared by arsonists. It should be made clear where the fires were started by people starting fires. Many of these “people” are already known to “authorities”…

  7. From the linked article;

    “These findings by a Stanford-led team are important for worldwide understanding of fire impacts on the carbon cycle and for modeling the future of global carbon and climate change.”

    And…

    “They used a vegetation model to predict global plant growth in frequently burned areas and found the loss of nitrogen in soils suppressed the regrowth of plants.”

    Models!

  8. My faith in uncertifiable NOAA computer models has reached zero. NOAA is predicting a ‘warmer than normal winter’ for the USA. Let’s see how that works out….
    Watching the CFSv2 models repeatedly forecasting warmer than normal T2M temperatures, only to see it shift to colder than normal temps as the forecast date nears has become habitual.

    • Having read the paper, the whole point of the paper was to find evidence to “certify” the NOAA model. They didn’t state it in the conclusion but it was clearly mentioned in the body of the work. The rest of it was full of “meta-analysis” of other peoples’ studies.

      • In which case you didn’t read the paper well! The whole point was not to ‘certify the Lund University model’ (sic).
        They followed the scientific process: collected data, developed an hypothesis which they then tested. They showed that for two types of ecosystem the Lund model was reasonable but for the third it was wrong, as they said: “illustrating the need for further model development and additional data”.

        • “They followed the scientific process: collected data”

          Phil, they did not *collect* data. They used data that had been collected over 65 years. With no control process over the collection process lumping the data together it becomes questionable.

          • Actually they did collect data, they also used pre-existing data, they did not ‘lump’ all the data together, they segregated it into different groups and they used a separate set of data as a control.
            I find it hard to believe you’ve read the paper as you claim, you certainly can’t have read the supplementary information, which includes:
            “We also required that studies sampled soils within the top 20 cm of the profile to capture responses in the most active layer in the soil profile. This criterion resulted in no exclusion of studies from the meta-analysis across studies, but restricted our analysis of data within studies to only the upper soil layers. The one exception to the top 20 cm threshold was the separate regression analysis in a network of boreal forest sites because of the limited data availability in boreal forests and the fact that all sites measured to the same depth (25 cm) and thus are unlikely to be systematically biased.”

          • Phil,

            “they segregated it into different groups and they used a separate set of data as a control.”

            1. segregating the data into different groups doesn’t make the data any better.
            2. Nor does using a different set of questionable data as a control set help any at all.

            I told you I didn’t read the study because I’m not going to pay $9 for a study that comes to conclusions that violate all common sense about savannas.

            ““We also required that studies sampled soils within the top 20 cm of the profile to capture responses in the most active layer in the soil profile.”

            So what? That doesn’t tell you anything about the sampling methods, the testing methods, or the analysis methods used in developing the data sets they borrowed. It does tell me that they didn’t do sample collection of their own and use it to validate the data in other studies. This is just one more example of poor science. All the data prior to Gallileo showed the Earth as the center of the solar system. If Gallileo had just used that data in his analyses he would have reached the same conclusion!

            And, their abstract talks about comparing savannas that are burned, whether it is natural or man-made, against savannas that are protected from burning. So don’t tell me it has nothing to do with controlled burning.

          • I told you I didn’t read the study because I’m not going to pay $9 for a study that comes to conclusions that violate all common sense about savannas.

            There is no need to pay anything to read the paper, didn’t cost me anything. It comes to no conclusions that violate common sense, their conclusions are about the effects of fire on soil nutrients.

            ““We also required that studies sampled soils within the top 20 cm of the profile to capture responses in the most active layer in the soil profile.”

            So what? That doesn’t tell you anything about the sampling methods, the testing methods, or the analysis methods used in developing the data sets they borrowed. It does tell me that they didn’t do sample collection of their own and use it to validate the data in other studies.

            As indicated elsewhere in this thread, you’re completely wrong about this, they did do sample collection of their own. Where you go wrong is not to read the paper and to make incorrect assumptions about what has been done.

          • “There is no need to pay anything to read the paper, didn’t cost me anything.”

            Then you must have a subscription to the site where the paper exists. I don’t. I suspect many of the readers of this forum do not.

            “It comes to no conclusions that violate common sense, their conclusions are about the effects of fire on soil nutrients.”

            Which flies in the face of historical experience. If not burning savanna produced better soil then it would also produce better pasture. Yet a thousand years of experience shows exactly the opposite!

            “As indicated elsewhere in this thread, you’re completely wrong about this, they did do sample collection of their own”

            From “protected” sites that were not subject to any kind of burning? Protected sites are meaningless when it comes to real world results. That’s why seed companies always use real, planted plots by farmers to objectively evaluate their new seeds. Results from protected sites simply don’t transfer well to the real world where varying conditions, insect infestations, etc happen. In the real world *all* savanna is subject to natural burning at the very least. Savanna that is never burned sooner or later strangles itself. It will stop sequestering N and acting as a C sink. That’s a pure, plain fact. Trying to claim that savanna that is never burned produces better soil is simply not a real world possibility. That fact alone is sufficient to raise significant criticism of the study results.

            “Where you go wrong is not to read the paper and to make incorrect assumptions about what has been done.”

            I am making no incorrect assumptions at all. I am trying to point out how the real world works based on 60 years of observations of a large savanna. And a conclusion that “protected” savanna that is never subject to burning produces better soil simply doesn’t comport with the real world. That may be an inconvenient fact for you to accept but it is the truth nonetheless!

          • Here’s some of the info you crave:
            “Total litter C and N pools were measured by harvesting all senesced leaf litter above the organic horizon within five 2500-cm2 quadrats randomly placed in each plot. These samples were then dried at 60ºC for 72 hours and weighed to determine total mass. At six
            additional locations in each plot, two adjacent samples of the litter layer were taken, hand-homogenized, and immediately extracted in 50 mL 2 mol/L KCl for analysis of inorganic N. Samples were extracted for 18 hours, filtered through Whatman 41 filter paper, and then pushed through a 1-lm filter (Acrodiscs; Pall Corporation, Port Washington, New York, USA). All samples were stored in clean 30-mL Nalgene bottles and kept frozen until analysis. At three randomly selected points within each plot, soil samples from the top and middle layers were taken. Within each layer, the three cores were physically mixed and processed through a 200-lm sieve to remove all roots. This process was repeated in each plot to yield two samples for analytical analysis within each plot. To compare underlying edaphic characteristics we used a soil auger to sample along a soil profile at seven depths centered at 25, 50, 60, 75, 80, 90, and 100 cm at three randomly selected locations in each plot. The three samples of each depth were mixed thoroughly for a composite sample. Because the auger was 10 cm in length, the soil samples were from the sections of 20–30,45–55, 55–65, 70–80, 75–85, 85–95, and 95–105 cm. These deeper soil layers were not included in the comparison of total pool size across the gradient and were only used to test for variation in underlying edaphic differences in soil type that may have influenced vegetation and C and N in the upper soil layers.”

            Just read the papers!

          • ““Total litter C and N pools were measured by harvesting all senesced leaf litter above the organic horizon within five 2500-cm2 quadrats randomly placed in each plot.”

            And this was done for multiple sites at multiple times over 65 years? In *real world* savannas?

            Please! They may have done this for some “protected” test plots but that is all. And as I pointed out in another message, results from test plots, probably very small, simply are not sufficient to establish results that are applicable to the real world! Over 65 years these test plots would have strangled from accumulated mulch. Their ability to sequester C and N would reach zero around the mid-point of that period of time while real world savanna would have regenerated over and over again maintaining its ability to sequester these elements.

            You can deny reality if you wish but it isn’t a long-term survival trait.

          • Then you must have a subscription to the site where the paper exists. I don’t. I suspect many of the readers of this forum do not.

            No I do not, I just used the link that Nick provided, as can you.
            https://jacksonlab.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/pellegrini_et_al._2018_nature.pdf

            “Where you go wrong is not to read the paper and to make incorrect assumptions about what has been done.”

            I am making no incorrect assumptions at all. I am trying to point out how the real world works based on 60 years of observations of a large savanna. And a conclusion that “protected” savanna that is never subject to burning produces better soil simply doesn’t comport with the real world. That may be an inconvenient fact for you to accept but it is the truth nonetheless!

            Actually you are making incorrect assumptions and misstating what the study has done and you admit that you haven’t read the paper so why should anyone listen to you.

  9. Pre-modern California burned frequently. SoCal chaparral about every 2 years. Seems like that was OK with mother nature back then. But appears “scientists” have studied it and now have a better idea./sarc

  10. So….Cutting down a forest to produce wood pellets for Drax generation depletes the Carbon sinking ability of said Forest…whoda thunkit

  11. A system of dry ice dropped from aircraft to smother fires should be evaluated. Dry ice is colder than water ice and heavier than air. It will settle over fire areas and smother fires. On a large scale this may prove more effective than water bombing.
    Any research on this?

  12. If this research was instrumental in defining policy and if I would have lost my house in a forest fire, then I would instruct a solicitor to sue the authors for damages.

  13. It occurs to me that much of the land burning in California is NOT forest cover which could be subject to clearance or burning in the first place. which suggests this isn’t a complete cure for fires… I note Sweden recently saw huge fires, despite one of the world’s most organised clearance regimes.

    • A grand total of nobody has suggested that preventative burns are a complete cure for fires.
      Even for you, this attempt to move the goal posts was pathetic.

    • griff, nobody claims it’s a complete cure. There is no such thing as a complete cure. Due to the geography of the area, fires will always be an issue. However proper forest management, including control burns and clearance regimes, can be and are the difference between a manageable fire incidence with minimal loss of life/property and an out of control fire incidence with larger losses in life/property.

  14. Someone tell these numb nuts, if you dont have controlled burns , you have uncontrolled burns. The option of things not burning doesnt exist. Pontificating will not change this.

    • ““Fires often increase the diversity of plants and reduce the risk that a landscape will have a high-intensity fire,” said Pellegrini.”
      But the paper is not about controlled burns.

        • Patrick MJD November 11, 2019 at 3:31 am
          Typical Stoke MJD diversion.
          It’s not about models, it’s about measured data, and it’s not about controlled burns.

          • Sorry should be:
            Phil. November 12, 2019 at 9:50 am
            Patrick MJD November 11, 2019 at 3:31 am
            Typical Stoke MJD diversion.

            It’s not about models, it’s about measured data, and it’s not about controlled burns.

          • What is used in fire predictions in Australia. That would be models. First created in the 70’s and then, laugh, initialised with actual data in the 90’s!!!

          • Patrick MJD November 13, 2019 at 4:01 am
            What is used in fire predictions in Australia. That would be models. First created in the 70’s and then, laugh, initialised with actual data in the 90’s!!!

            Which is nothing to do with the paper under discussion.

  15. So here in Australia with 50000 years of indigenous fire stick tradition I would guess the Australian landscape may have adapted and evolved to become dependent on regular cool burns.Now we lock up Forrest areas and let the ground fuel loads to build until the inevitable bush fire.The intensity destroys ancient trees that have survived for hundreds of years.Down here a controlled burn is burning a hundred acre logging coup to clean up the left over crap.They are never on the verges of privately owned properties.

    • It really is crazy stuff. In England, there is a native flower that grows in many places, ohhh, like fields and grasslands etc used as public places like golf courses and parks etc. You can be fined for stepping on them. Finned *AND* arrested for stepping on a “protected” flower.

      So too a man in Victoria sued for protecting his property during a fire “season”…whatever that is.

  16. I’d need to see the study’s design to comment properly, but “frequency” is not the only relevant factor.

    I’ve stood on burnt ground – burnt for the first time in many decades – and that one event oxidised all organic matter in the soil to a depth of six inches.

    I’ve also stood on land that has been burnt multiple times over the past decade, and which tests showed to contain reasonable levels of organic matter.

    I’ve spent a great deal of time in country that has been burned over, and yet the soil was NOT scorched, not even all the surface litter or dead timber had been oxidised.

    So timing and conditions are obviously confounding factors and any study that does not control for them is untrustworthy.

  17. Admins, admin, moderator, Anthony,

    My humble comment has been in moderation for two hours plus!

    Why?

    Why do my comments go into moderation automatically?

    Please just tell me and I won’t have to waste time waiting to see if you will post them or not!

    (As far as I know your comments got stuck in the wrong place, it happens once in a while, I have rescued perfectly good comments from the spam bin, wondering why they were flagged as spam. Try to talk about this with moderators more quietly, to resolve your concerns next time please) SUNMOD

    • Yeah, I’m thinking about demanding Anthony triple the Mods salary, then maybe we’ll have more time to devote to moderation. Oh wait, we’re volunteers and our salary is $0. Surprisingly there are times when we aren’t continuously hitting f5 waiting for the next comment to moderate (especially at 3am). 🙂 — Mod

      • ==> Bill Marsh,

        Yeah, I’m wondering why Nick Stokes has no trouble posting, despite being in the same time zone. How is it the Nick and Mosh can comment real time but us plebs have to wait several hours to contribute? Mind you, this stupid comment might now take several hours to make if through moderation, if it does at all. ;-(

        (Hardly anyone gets stuck in moderation unless there is a censored word in it, or too many links in the comment, once in a while a comment or two get dumped there even if there is no visible reason for it. I never saw your comment, but it is true 3:00 am can be a quiet area for mods as most are sleeping at the time) SUNMOD

        • I’m not aware of ever having written anything offensive, but just lately my comments have disappeared into cyberspace, maybe to appear later. I am rather puzzled that it keeps happening; rather put off bothering these days, to be honest…

          • for the past few months this site has had issues. Sometimes posts sail through without incident, while other times posts take a long time to appear (though usually no more than an hour), it’s actually slightly gotten better in the last few weeks (or else I’ve just gotten more use to it, LOL). There are some obvious triggers (too many links, certain key words) that will send a post to moderation purgatory. It’s just one of those quirks that you either get use to or you don’t.

      • I don’t know, somebody took the time to choose and publish the most out of context posts they could find, in the middle of the night, while ignoring every reasonable attempt to comment and communicate with the moderators!

      • ==> Bill Marsh

        Talk about being ridiculously patronising! How is it, that you have been able to comment immediately? While I can’t make a response in under four hours?

        • Scott dear,

          my comments usually post well under 2 hours. Consider your commenting a side job. While waiting, comment somewhere else.

    • “Frustrated”, “Very, very, very frustrated”, “Scott Wilmot Bennett ” or whatever your name is, putting aside that posting under multiple names is against forum rules and can get you banned, the very first time you post under a name take a long time in moderation (as I understand it the first post gets flagged for human review, as the mods are volunteers and not full time paid workers, that means it can take “hours and hours”). Repeatedly posting but under different names, does not help the situation, as each new “first” post then gets flagged for human review.

      (John, please let it go, let the mods figure it out) SUNMOD

      • Nick Stokes can post – in my own time zone – and yet any comment I make can then take several hours to appear. And the moderators go out of their way – for reasons beyond me – to then make sure I suffer, by posting anything they can find that is well out of context, duplicated or irrelevant by the time they finally post my initial and most meaningful comments!

        As to my name, WUWT have my IP and my email address is always the same. There is no doubt, they know who I am! If you doubt me, I’m Scott Wilmot Bennett and I live in Tasmania, Australia. I’m the only Scott Wilmot Bennett in the world, so there is no mistaking my identity! My address and phone numbers are freely published on my website. Come to my home and you will find me, living there!

        (Scott, stop accusing the mods, there are no comment restrictions against you, your continuous public complaints and accusations needs to stop, POLICY statement about comments: “Postings are moderated, I and the volunteer moderators try to keep up, but on occasion there may be delays of a few hours. There are other volunteer moderators, but even so there may be some overnight gaps.”) SUNMOD

        • ==> SUNMOD

          I have to trust you are genuine and therefore; apologies for any pain I may have caused.
          If I understand correctly, you are saying that everyone goes into automatic moderation?

          Im not doubting you but I’m confused as it seems people in my time zone are able to engage in timely and lively conversations but I’m in the bin with every comment and it can take more than several hours to find out if the comment went up or not.

          If it is – as you say – just a lack of resources, I can’t and won’t argue with that. 😉

          cheers,

          Scott

  18. When the study mentions atmospheric “carbon”, they mean carbon dioxide?

    I can see where that flora can sequester carbon in the soil if photosynthesis takes CO2 and releases oxygen into the atmosphere. The carbon has to go somewhere if it’s no longer gaseous.

    Really bothers me when supposed scientists are too lazy or ignorant to say carbon dioxide (CO2) instead of carbon (C) and conflate carbon with atmospheric CO2.

    The media does it all the time, I just equate their doing so to ignorance or being lazy.

    • This study is really concerned with soil levels of carbon and nitrogen compounds. So no CO2 confusion on the author’s part in the paper anyway. I was a little concerned with how they went about determining those compound levels, but it looks like I would have to chase through about 50 papers to find how that data was collected.

  19. Remember the good ol’ days at NASA when “controlled burn” described firing of a rocket motor to change a spacecraft trajectory?

  20. Have the figured in the loss of productivity of soils that were subject the mcuh more extreme heat of large, intese fires? Have they calculated to lost “sequestration” of houses destroyed in major fires?

    I did not think so.

    Intellectual idiots, with a political agenda, much?

  21. This study can’t be true; it goes against all logic!

    1. It is well known that fire favours the development of either grasslands or woodlands depending on the particular seasons and frequencies:

    “Applying fire to grasslands when fire intensity is higher reduces the survival of shrub and tree species. But if fire is applied when fire intensity is low, it allows tree and shrub species to survive, favouring the development of a woodland structure. – WA Parks and Wildlife Service”

    Many Australian species will not even germinate without fire. And eucalypts and some banksia have dormant buds – lignotubers – which only come to life when the top growth is killed by fire.

    While most nitrogen within the plant is lost to the atmosphere when it is burnt, this is compensated for by the fire-stimulated regeneration of legumes and other nitrogen fixing plants:

    “Many of the first plants that appear after a fire, such as wattles (acacias) and pea-flowering plants which are often called ‘fire weeds’, have this nitrogen converting ability, and are able to rapidly rebuild the nitrogen supplies in the soil that are subsequently available to all the plants at the site. – WA DPAW”

    2. A fine example of this appalling “wisdom” occurred in the Australian Alps where grazing and burning – controlled or otherwise – was ended. When lightning strikes ignited the bush, because of the fuel load build up, they became “hot fires” that killed all the trees. So by their logic, because it wasn’t regularly burn’t – “cold fires” – it would have sequestered more soil carbon!
    True or not, when the hot fires did come they massively reduced nutrient sequestration by killing everything including the dominant species of old growth giant (Mountain Ash, Eucalyptus regnans)!

    “In high intensity fires such as those seen on Black Saturday, the tree is killed and doesn’t re-sprout from the base or the branches like almost all other eucalypts. Mountain Ash usually regenerate as fast-growing seedlings. This results in forests of Mountain Ash that are all the same size and age… Recently, however, scientists have found Mountain Ash forests with mixed aged trees, indicating older trees here had probably survived less intense fires, re-sprouted from stems and branches and continued to grow, along with seedlings.”” – Dr Geoff Burrows, CSU”

    Only trees older than 10-15 years can seed but these are very susceptible; even to “cold” fires.

    3. I regularly visited a region of savannah country in far north Queensland – over a one year period – to witness its seasons. Controlled burning is conducted yearly by the National Parks service there, in order to reduce fuel load and mitigate against “hot” fires that might potentially lead to speciation and ecosystem shifts!

    • Very, very, very frustrated November 11, 2019 at 5:01 am
      This study can’t be true; it goes against all logic!

      Really, it’s illogical that a high frequency of fires can lead to a reduction in soil nutrient storage?
      And that such losses can limit plant productivity?
      Seems very logical to me.

      • Phil,

        “Really, it’s illogical that a high frequency of fires can lead to a reduction in soil nutrient storage?
        And that such losses can limit plant productivity?
        Seems very logical to me.”

        You keep saying everyone needs to read the paper but show that you didn’t bother to read the link I provided!

        “The need for ROUTINE burns continues to this day. The plants depend upon a routine fire, the animals depend upon a routine fire, and the economy depends upon it as well. The only major difference is that, instead of hunting or lightning causing these fires, ranchers are now conducting prescribed burns based upon published ecological research and generations-old knowledge of pasture management.” (capitalization mine, tpg)

        “A study conducted at the Konza Prarie identified that, if fire is excluded from the land, the tallgrass prairie would transform into a cedar forest in as little as 30-40 years.

        Routine, responsible and prescribed fire is the most cost-effective method for halting the Eastern Red Cedar.

        However, research also has shown ROUTINE prescribed fire has additional benefits to these native grasslands. Burning pastures reduces the fuel load in millions of acres of grassland. This helps reduce the risk of destructive, and potentially deadly wildfires. By reducing the fuel load of dried up grass, fire also removes old thatch that can slow or stunt the growth of native grasses.” (capitalization mine, tpg)

        “Ultimately, prescribed burning improves native grasslands, naturally controls weeds and trees, and helps maintain the delicate tallgrass ecosystem.”

        “Once the perennial grasses are established, the cattle will be allowed to graze on that land. Not only do cattle love the fresh grass, research has shown cattle gain more on pastures that have been burned because the old grass and thatch have been removed.”

        The abstract of the study states that burned savanna has less C and N than unburned savanna. That conclusion is obviously questionable based on the empirical data that is available in the central US savanna over thousands of years. It should be more than obvious that a growing, thick grass cover is a far better C sink than a stunted grass cover caused by thick thatch and old grass that shades out the new growth. While grasses don’t capture N from the air as well as other cover they do scavenge nitrogen from the soil and capture it in their root systems preventing it from being leached out through water drainage.

        Please note carefully that I am *NOT* going to pay $9 to get a copy of the complete study. I can only go by what is in their abstract. I can also only go by what is in the link I provided and my 60 years of observation of the central US plains. I have *seen* first-hand what happens to unburned savanna. Any study that states that unburned savanna has higher nutrient density than burned savanna doesn’t meet the common sense test.

  22. I still can’t post here, after four hours of attempts!
    Your friendly moderators have removed any attempt I’ve made to communicate.
    Ok, mods, I see it is war! I can communicate with many people here directly and will make them aware of
    WUWT’s dishonesty.

    This is not going away easily.

    (Please stop, we are trying to figure out what is going on, your numerous public complaints are not helping the Mods, as far as I know there are no restrictions against your comments. I checked the spam bin which had 75 comments there, NONE of them yours, two of your comments are deleted as they are duplicates, please CALM DOWN!) SUNMOD

    • Showing your asininity in public really will endear you to the locals. I think before you accuse, you should perhaps look in a mirror and find patience. I have read so far this morning about 6 comments from you complaining about not being allowed to comment, and yet I have read them, so obviously you aren’t being prevented from commenting.

      The posting system on the blog is a little slow in general. My posts tend to show up about an hour after I hit the button to reply. Very few people are blocked on this site and each of them was being abusive to our host or to other posters. I see from this comment that you are trying to join them. That is your choice to make, but it is not a wise one.

    • ==> SUNMOD

      From my point of view, I can’t understand why you posted my communications and complaints to you after I had been trying to post my initial comment for over four hours! I understand your work load but why post my “frustrations” rather than just my original comment?

      You should have just posted my original comment and saved yourself the time and pain of complaining about my complaints; posts that – by the way – you seemed to have no trouble in expediting!

      It is frustrating from the user side because, for some odd reason, you will let the controversy through while waiting half a day to post the disputed comment!

      In short, it makes no sense that you would post the “communications arising” as it were, before even resurrecting the relevant binned post.

      I’m not accusing you of anything, I’m just trying to point out how it appears from the user end.

      cheers,

      Scott

  23. You are joking! You are stopping me from commenting at all?

    I’m nothing if not persistent!

    You have no idea what you have started.

    • Scott,
      I’ve been reading interesting articles and posting comments at WUWT for +15 years. Sometimes my comments show up in short order. Other times they take an hour or more. Occasionally, I inadvertently use a flagged word like ‘k ill’ (ex: “Drama queen comments are a buzz k ill.”) and get sent into the moderation loop. Rarely, a comment of mine just ‘disappears’. This is not a site for those that need the instantaneous gratification of seeing their comment ‘on page’ the moment after they hit ‘post’. I accept all of that because this site attracts and provides excellent science articles, commented on by many with real expertise in areas of diverse interest. The MODS are all volunteers, doing thankless work that deserves patience at a minimum from disconsolate commenters.

      Please accept it, with all it’s flaws Scott, or find another forum that better suits your personal tastes.

    • Please desist SWB. You are not the only one…it keeps happening to me lately…puzzling I must admit but A and the mods really do have a big job on their hands and they do have to deal with some right nutters at times.
      I don’t suppose this will appear straightaway either ,; often I forget to go back and look!

  24. Bizarre, having over seen both controlled burns and research relative to the impacts of controlled burns and the impact of fire suppression this study misses important factors. For example, more fuel, hotter fire, often much hotter. Hotter fires have a far greater impact on everything than properly managed and cooler controlled burns. Important information is how often did an ecosystem burn “naturally.” I use quotes since native Americans used fire. Really hot fires due to years of fire suppression often kill animals and plants long adapted to natural fires. Note: If NOAA funded the study then it is a NOAA study.

  25. as a RFS member in sydney the major fires we are having now is all because of a drought combined with our national parks not carrying hazard reduction over many years the Aborigines burnt the land all the time for food and new growth for the animals for thousands of years the Australian bush adapted to this burning , the brainless stopped most of the burning . one fire has a 1000 k circumference and getting bigger all the time

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