UPDATE: Emissions from Indonesian fires have continued to rise since this article was published and now are estimated to be roughly equal to Japan’s annual carbon dioxide emissions. See here.
Experts say that along with dramatic global coral bleaching, thousands of fires across Indonesia represents the next sign of an intensifying global El Niño event. And the consequences, in this case, could affect the entire globe’s atmosphere.
That’s because a large number of Indonesia’s currently raging fires are consuming ancient stores of carbon-rich peat, which is found in wetlands featuring organic layers full of dead and partially decomposed plant life.