Journal cover Journal topic
Biogeosciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Journal topic
Volume 13, issue 11
Biogeosciences, 13, 3359–3375, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-13-3359-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Biogeosciences, 13, 3359–3375, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-13-3359-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Reviews and syntheses 09 Jun 2016

Reviews and syntheses | 09 Jun 2016

The status and challenge of global fire modelling

Stijn Hantson1, Almut Arneth1, Sandy P. Harrison2,3, Douglas I. Kelley2,3, I. Colin Prentice3,4, Sam S. Rabin5, Sally Archibald6,7, Florent Mouillot8, Steve R. Arnold9, Paulo Artaxo10, Dominique Bachelet11,12, Philippe Ciais13, Matthew Forrest14, Pierre Friedlingstein15, Thomas Hickler14,16, Jed O. Kaplan17, Silvia Kloster18, Wolfgang Knorr19, Gitta Lasslop18, Fang Li20, Stephane Mangeon21, Joe R. Melton22, Andrea Meyn23, Stephen Sitch24, Allan Spessa25,26, Guido R. van der Werf27, Apostolos Voulgarakis21, and Chao Yue13 Stijn Hantson et al.
  • 1Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute of Meteorology and Climate research, Atmospheric Environmental Research, 82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
  • 2School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Sciences (SAGES), University of Reading, Reading, UK
  • 3School of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia
  • 4AXA Chair of Biosphere and Climate Impacts, Grand Challenges in Ecosystem and the Environment, Department of Life Sciences and Grantham Institute, Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Buckhurst Road, Ascot SL5 7PY, UK
  • 5Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
  • 6School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg 2050, South Africa
  • 7Natural Resources and the Environment, CSIR, P.O. Box 395, Pretoria, 0001, South Africa
  • 8UMR5175 CEFE, CNRS/Université de Montpellier/Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier/EPHE/IRD, 1919 route de Mende, 34293 Montpellier CEDEX 5, France
  • 9Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science, School of Earth & Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  • 10Institute of Physics, University of São Paulo, Rua do Matão, Travessa R, 187, CEP05508-090, São Paulo, S.P., Brazil
  • 11Biological and Ecological Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
  • 12Conservation Biology Institute, 136 SW Washington Ave., Suite 202, Corvallis, OR 97333, USA
  • 13Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 14Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Institute (BiK-F), Senckenberganlage 25, 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • 15College of Engineering Mathematics and Physical Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK
  • 16Institute of Physical Geography, Goethe University, Altenhöferallee 1, 60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • 17Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics, University of Lausanne, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 18Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Bundesstraße 53, 20164 Hamburg, Germany
  • 19Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University, 22362 Lund, Sweden
  • 20International Center for Climate and Environmental Sciences, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 21Department of Physics, Imperial College London, London, UK
  • 22Climate Research Division, Environment Canada, Victoria, BC, V8W 2Y2, Canada
  • 23Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Atmosphere and Climate Programme, 76344 Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, Germany
  • 24College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4RJ, UK
  • 25Department of Environment, Earth and Ecosystems, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
  • 26Department Atmospheric Chemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Mainz, Germany
  • 27Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081HV, Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Abstract. Biomass burning impacts vegetation dynamics, biogeochemical cycling, atmospheric chemistry, and climate, with sometimes deleterious socio-economic impacts. Under future climate projections it is often expected that the risk of wildfires will increase. Our ability to predict the magnitude and geographic pattern of future fire impacts rests on our ability to model fire regimes, using either well-founded empirical relationships or process-based models with good predictive skill. While a large variety of models exist today, it is still unclear which type of model or degree of complexity is required to model fire adequately at regional to global scales. This is the central question underpinning the creation of the Fire Model Intercomparison Project (FireMIP), an international initiative to compare and evaluate existing global fire models against benchmark data sets for present-day and historical conditions. In this paper we review how fires have been represented in fire-enabled dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs) and give an overview of the current state of the art in fire-regime modelling. We indicate which challenges still remain in global fire modelling and stress the need for a comprehensive model evaluation and outline what lessons may be learned from FireMIP.

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Our ability to predict the magnitude and geographic pattern of past and future fire impacts rests on our ability to model fire regimes. A large variety of models exist, and it is unclear which type of model or degree of complexity is required to model fire adequately at regional to global scales. In this paper we summarize the current state of the art in fire-regime modelling and model evaluation, and outline what lessons may be learned from the Fire Model Intercomparison Project – FireMIP.
Our ability to predict the magnitude and geographic pattern of past and future fire impacts...
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