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Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Nick Earl; Ian Simmonds
Publication Date: 2018

Fire regimes across the globe have great spatial and temporal variability, and these are influence by many factors including anthropogenic management, climate, and vegetation types. Here we utilize the satellite‐based 'active fire' product, from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors, to statistically analyze variability and trends in fire activity from the global to regional scales. We split up the regions by economic development, region/geographical land use, clusters of fire‐abundant areas, or by religious/cultural influence. Weekly cycle tests are conducted to highlight and quantify part of the anthropogenic influence on fire regime across the world. We find that there is a strong statistically significant decline in 2001-2016 active fires globally linked to an increase in net primary productivity observed in northern Africa, along with global agricultural expansion and intensification, which generally reduces fire activity. There are high levels of variability, however. The large‐scale regions exhibit either little change or decreasing in fire activity except for strong increasing trends in India and China, where rapid population increase is occurring, leading to agricultural intensification and increased crop residue burning. Variability in Canada has been linked to a warming global climate leading to a longer growing season and higher fuel loads. Areas with a strong weekly cycle give a good indication of where fire management is being applied most extensively, for example, the United States, where few areas retain a natural fire regime.

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Citation: Earl, Nick; Simmonds, Ian. 2018. Spatial and temporal variability and trends in 2001-2016 global fire activity. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 123(5):2524-2536.

Cataloging Information

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  • anthropogenic influence
  • fire activity
  • fire regimes
  • MODIS - Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer
  • spatial variability
  • temporal variability
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Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 26056