The extent of biomass burning has increased significantly over the past 100 years because of human activities, and such burning is much more frequent and widespread than was previously believed. Biomass burning is now recognized as a significant global source of emissions, contributing as much as 40% of gross carbon dioxide and 38% of tropospheric ozone. Most of the world's burned biomass matter is from the savannas, and because two-thirds of the Earth's savannas are located in Africa, that continent is now recognized as the "burn center" of the planet. In the past few years the international scientific community has conducted field experiments using ground-based and airborne measurements in Africa, South America. and Siberia to better assess the global production of gases and particulates by biomass burning. Researchers are gathering this month in Williamsburg, VA, to discuss the results of these and other investigations at the Second Chapman Conference on Biomass Burning and Global Change, sponsored by the American Geophysical Union. The first international biomass burning conference, held in 1990, was attended by atmospheric chemists, climatologists, ecologists, forest and soil scientists, fire researchers, remote- sensins specialists, and environmental planners and managers from more than 25 countries.When we hear about biomass burning, we usually think of the burning of the worlds tropical forests for permanent land clearing. However, biomass burning serves a variety of land use changes, including the clearing of forests and savannas for agricultural and grazing use; shifting agriculture practices; the control of grass, weeds, and litter on agricultural and grazing lands; the elimination of stubble and waste on agricultural lands after the harvest; and the domestic use of biomass matter.