Carbon balance in relation to fire regimes
Document Type: Conference Proceedings
Author(s): Jerry S. Olson
Editor(s): Harold A. Mooney; T. M. Bonnicksen; Norman L. Christensen Jr.; James E. Lotan; William A. Reiners
Publication Year: 1981

Cataloging Information

  • C - carbon
  • carbon budgets
  • CO2 - carbon dioxide
  • combustion
  • ecosystem recovery
  • fire regimes
  • succession
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: September 12, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 2811
Tall Timbers Record Number: 1694
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: A13.88:WO-26 DDW
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


A theory of ecosystem succession relates the continuum of fire frequency and intensities to mean annual carbon burning in major ecosystems of the world. Low fire frequency and release of C are contrasted with combinations of (1) low frequency, high release, (2) high frequency and release, and (3) high frequency, sometimes lowering mean C release and/or ecosystem productivity. Experience, literature, income-loss equations, matrix multiplications of probabilities, and Honolulu SCOPE workshop discussions suggest the following consequences: (1) Infrequent but drastic burns restart many stand developments and successions. (2) Frequent, intense burning regimes fundamentally modify ecosystem processes and -2 -1 composition (e.g., releasing >100 C m yr in some seasonally dry ecosystems). (3) Frequent burns, lowering available C per fire, may have as high, or lower, average burn per year (frequency x mean C burn per fire). Charts, tables, and a map of averaged annual C release, and multiplications by tentative area estimates now suggest that nonfossil C release by fire is at least slightly below the 5 x 10"^ g C yr ^ recently released by burning of fossil fuels, as global CO2 fluxes.

Online Link(s):
Olson, Jerry S. 1981. Carbon balance in relation to fire regimes. Pages 327-378. In: Fire regimes and ecosystem properties: proceedings of the conference. General Technical Report WO-GTR-26. Honolulu, HI: USDA Forest Service.