Mont Alto alumnus Eric Straley sent me this news link http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061116/ap_on_sc/cooling_fires about a study of the long term effects of forest fires in northern (spruce fir) forests. It seems that the fire releases large quantities of carbon and pollutants at first. But the next year the same site with longer lasting snow cover and light-colored hardwood regrowth will actually reflect light back to space which would reduce global warming. It takes at least 80 years for the dark-colored softwood forest to be re-established.
The article quotes the researchers as saying that wildfires are just one factor in global warming and this issue needs more study to understand what's going on. However, as global warming is a long term phenomenon made up of the sum of all activities on earth I get a little skeptical about the importance of individual studies of one part of a very complicated system. It's not enough to really decided how to change policies and actions.
Thanks, Eric, for the interesting article and stay warm in Anchorage, AL!