Fires Within

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By Hunter Wagner

Graphite on Paper 8.5"x 11"

Bogs hold most of the world's carbon within their layers of moss that run several meters deep in peat deposits.  Gustaf Granath and James Michael Waddington from McMaster School of Geography and Earth Sciences research shows that artificial manipulation made to these bogs have increased their vulnerability and have dried them up, leading to fires that have the potential to burn for months and ignite underground.  Unlike the common landscape fires, these fires are buried deep down within the layers of soil. The outgoing smoke is detrimental, causing destruction to the forests and even death. In northern forests, sunlight is blocked by large spruce trees killing the top layers of moss and drying out the bogs, accelerating the fires progression.  A tedious solution has been constructed by thinning the tops of the spruce trees, planting new moss, and running water into these areas to return moisture to layers. Waddington claims their research shows “that if you can re-wet the system and get the key peat moss growing on the surface, you essentially can put a cap on the system and limit burning or resist fire completely.”