Biomass burning during wildland fires is an important source of atmospheric trace gasses and particulate matter. A meeting sponsored by Global Observation of Forest Cover/Global Observation of Land Dynamics and International Geosphere-Biosphere Program/International Global Atmospheric Chemistry/Biomass Burning Experiment to review the status of efforts using satellite-based burned-area products to estimate global emissions from biomass burning was held in July 2002. Here we summarize the results of papers submitted from this meeting and contained in this special section. In addition, the findings and recommendations from the workshop are summarized. While new burned-area products make it possible to estimate wildland fire emissions at continental and global scales, differences in approaches to quantify fuel loads and combustion factors lead to significant variations in emissions estimates. These differences highlight the need for in-depth comparisons between emission estimation approaches and further research directed toward integration of research conducted at regional scales into the global-scale approaches to estimate emissions.