Once set alight by wildfires, deep beds of decaying tropical plant matter pump massive amounts of carbon into the sky. According to new research, emissions of globe-warming gases from smoldering peat eclipse those from burning surface vegetation and can rival carbon gases produced globally each year by the combustion of fossil fuels.
Disastrous wildfires swept through Borneo and several other Indonesian islands in 1997 and 1998. The flames burned surface vegetation and the peat that's abundant in the region's tropical forests. The fires coincided with a worldwide spike in atmospheric carbon concentrations, prompting scientists to in