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This singed pine cone isn’t damaged, the heat from the flames is the very thing that triggered the release of these Banksia serrata seeds.

When the fire-resistant seeds land on the forest floor, they will find a nutrient-rich ashy bed and very few other seeds to compete with. Forest fires can be incredibly destructive to human life and property as well as to animals and plants that share the ecosystem. However, some forest fire is actually needed in order to allow certain trees to regenerate through succession. The ashes left from a fire provide fertile grounds for sprouting plants. Slash-and-burn agriculture has taken advantage of this fact for centuries, and is still the primary agricultural technique for much of the world, including for residents of African and South Asian countries.

  • Where are fires likely to occur?
  • What environmental and ecological factors contribute to increased forest fires?
  • Why are forest fires important?
  • Is the frequency of forest fires changing worldwide?
  • Why is it important to prevent wildfires?
  • What do fires add to the air?

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Atmospheric Chemistry: GEOS-5 Model

This model shows the source and movement of three types of aerosols as they move through the atmosphere. The white (sulfates) and especially green (carbon) are showing particles from fires that move through the air affecting air quality.

Fires - Real-time

This shows the locations of daily natural and manmade fires over the last year.