Fire links the biosphere and the atmosphere. The linkage is, as yet, poorly quantified. Evidence suggests that a few percent of total C fixed by photosynthesis is oxidized by burning. Biomass burning seems to be globally significant in terms of associated: • Releases of trace gases and aerosols to the atmosphere; • Sinkage of inert, charred C into sedimentary pools; and • Effects on species survival, distribution of vegetative formations, and surface properties.The distribution of fire is sensitive to both climatic and anthropogenic factors. The resulting patterns are complex and highly variable in time and space. Current knowledge of fire distributions is inadequate for either assessment of fire effects or establishment of a framework for satellite-based evaluation of fire on a global basis. Thus, although fire produces strong signals, particularly in the mid IR, that give good leverage for remote sensing, considerable analysis is required before these can be meaningfully interpreted. Such analysis will best be done in the context of an integrated systems format that links analysis of fire to other quantitative assessments of 'Global Biology.'Presently available sensors provide a good basis for preliminary, experimental assessment of fire on a global basis. The Eos-generation of sensors could potentially provide a strong technological basis for global fire monitoring. If this potential is to be utilized, research and design toward that end must proceed rapidly.