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Fires in terrestrial ecosystems produce large amounts of charcoal that persist in the environment and represent a substantial pool of sequestered carbon in soil. The objective of this research was to investigate the effect of charring on mid-infrared spectra of materials likely to be present in forest fires in order to determine the feasibility of determining charred organic matter in soils. Four materials (cellulose, lignin, pine bark, and pine wood) and char from these materials, created by charring for various durations (1 to 168 h) and at various temperatures (200 to 450 degrees C), were studied. Mid-infrared spectra and measures of acidity (total acids, carboxylic acids, lactones, and phenols as determined...