USDA Forest Service

Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team


Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team
Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory

400 N 34th Street, Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98103

(206) 732-7800

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Carbon Emissions from Spring 1998 Fires in Tropical Mexico

We used NOAA-AVHRR satellite imagery, biomass density maps, fuel consumption estimates, and a carbon emission factor to estimate the total carbon (C) emissions from the spring 1998 fires in tropical Mexico. All eight states in southeast Mexico were affected by the wildfires, although the activity was concentrated near the common border of Oaxaca, Chiapas, and Veracruz. The fires burned approximately 482,000 ha and the land use/land cover classes most extensively impacted were the tall/medium selvas (tropical evergreen forests), open/fragmented forests, and perturbed areas. The total prompt emissions were 4.6 TgC during the two-month period of our study, contributing an additional 24% to the region's average annual net C emissions from forestry and land-use change. Mexico in 1998 experienced its driest spring since 1941, setting the stage for the widespread burning. If fire episodes such as the one that occurred in Mexico and around the world become the norm due to warmer and drier conditions, then an increase in C emissions may represent a significant positive feedback to global climate change.

Cairns, Michael A.; Hao, Wei Min; Alvarado, Ernesto; Haggerty, Patricia C. 2000. Carbon emissions from spring 1998 fires in tropical Mexico. In: Proceedings from The Joint Fire Science Conference and Workshop "Crossing the Millennium: Integrating Spatial Technologies and Ecological Principles for a New Age in Fire Management. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho. Volume 1. 242-248.

U.S. Forest Service - PNW- FERA
Last Modified: Monday, 16 December 2013 at 14:18:40 CST

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