The evolution of regular forest fires

Photo credit: Nature World News

Wildfires did not emerge until 80 million years after plants first evolved. Researchers say there was simply not enough oxygen in the Earth’s ancient atmosphere to support burning at this time. (Photo : Flickr: NPS Climate Change Response)

Ancient Wildfires: Researchers Examine Evolution Of Forest Fires

Even though plants first emerged on Earth 400 million years ago, it was not until approximately 80 million years later that wildfires began ripping through forests and grasslands like they do today in California, a new study revealed.
So, if there was plenty of foliage, what prevented raging wildfires during this time? Researchers from University of Royal Holloway London discovered that there simply was not enough oxygen in the atmosphere, according to a news release. It turns out that widespread forest fires were not present until around 360 million years ago, in the latest Devonian Period, when oxygen levels rose to above 17 percent. Today, the atmospheric oxygen is approximately 21 percent, the release noted.
Read the full article: Nature World News

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.