Mousseau and other researchers are concerned that the buildup of leaf litter on the forest floor presents a real danger. "There is growing concern that there could be a catastrophic fire in the coming years," Mousseau said.
In the event of a forest fire, 28 years' worth of undecayed leaves would provide an ideal fuel for the fire, which could then spread radiation throughout the region. "That would end up moving radiocesium and other contaminants via smoke into populated areas," Mousseau said.
"This litter accumulation that we measured, which is likely a direct consequence of reduced microbial decomposing activity, is like kindling," Mousseau added. "It's dry, light and burns quite readily. It adds to the fuel, as well as makes it more likely that catastrophically sized forest fires might start."
Original article on Live Science.
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