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Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 7:51 EDT

Wildfires Heated Up The Early Earth

February 7, 2014

New research from Yale University found that wildfires contributed to Earth’s scorching ancient climate of three million years ago. The team used a NASA model to simulate Earth’s ecosystem emissions and atmospheric composition of the Pliocene and pre-industrial eras. They determined that forests and smoke from wildfires released volatile compounds into the atmosphere causing more global warming than atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide. And since deforestation didn’t exist then, well, obviously there were no humans and a lot of trees to burn. These compounds altered Earth’s radiation balance which resulted in two to three times the warming of carbon dioxide, making a much hotter climate, even though carbon dioxide levels are about the same as today. So in conclusion, trees are typically good for climate change, but as with anything – too much of a good thing can be bad.

[ Read the Article: Wildfires Could Help Explain A Warm Ancient Earth ]