During the 1997 to 1998 El Niño, drought conditions triggered widespread increases in fire activity, releasing CH4 and CO 2 to the atmosphere. We evaluated the contribution of fires from different continents to variability in these greenhouse gases from 1997 to 2001, using satellite-based estimates of fire activity, biogeochemical modeling, and an inverse analysis of atmospheric CO anomalies. During the 1997 to 1998 El Niño, the fire emissions anomaly was 2.1 ± 0.8 petagrams of carbon, or 66 ± 24% of the CO2 growth rate anomaly. The main contributors were Southeast Asia (60%), Central and South America (30%), and boreal regions of Eurasia and North America (10%).
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