Fire is a natural process integral to the order and function of our planet. It is both friend and foe to the human race, having strongly influenced our social development and success as a species, yet remains a serious threat to human life. Our planet is inherently flammable. Earth’s forests and vegetation provide a vast source of fuel, and wildfires consume huge quantities of biomass in all ecosystems ranging across all biomes, from tundra to savanna and from Boreal to tropical forests. Wildfires influence atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations and may even regulate the oxygen content of our atmosphere enabling us to breathe. The unique products that wildfires create, such as chars and soots are traceable in soils, sediments and ancient rocks which can provide us with information about modern wildfires as well as a record of Earth’s past wildfire history.

The group focuses on studying the influence of wildfire in both Earth’s modern and ancient ecosystems by using state-of-the-art experimental approaches to understand the flammability of vegetation and the nature of the materials that wildfires create. The wildFIRE lab’s aim is to understand the role that wildfires play in balancing the processes that make our planet habitable today.

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