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Peat Fires Could Accelerate Climate Change

Published: February 20, 2012.
By Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

In 1997, a forest fire in Indonesia ignited an area of peatlands that smouldered for months. By the time it was over, the fire had released greenhouse gases equal to 20 to 40 percent of the total worldwide emissions that year from fossil fuels. But that could be a drop in the bucket compared to future emissions from peat fires. Indonesian peatlands are dwarfed by Canada's. The total area of all peatland in Canada is estimated to be about twice the size of Saskatchewan.

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