Model comparisons for estimating carbon emissions from North American wildland fire
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Nancy H. F. French; William J. de Groot; Liza K. Jenkins; Brendan M. Rogers; Ernesto Alvarado; Brian D. Amiro; Bernardus de Jong; Scott J. Goetz; Elizabeth E. Hoy; Edward J. Hyer; Robert E. Keane II; Beverly E. Law; Donald McKenzie; Steven G. McNulty; Roger D. Ottmar; Diego R. Perez-Salicrup; James T. Randerson; Kevin M. Robertson; Merritt R. Turetsky
Publication Year: 2011

Cataloging Information

  • air quality
  • biomass
  • boreal forests
  • Canada
  • carbon
  • chaparral
  • coniferous forests
  • disturbance
  • duff
  • fire case histories
  • fire hazard reduction
  • fire management
  • fire size
  • forest management
  • fuel loading
  • fuel management
  • fuel moisture
  • fuel types
  • Mexico
  • Oregon
  • remote sensing
  • Saskatchewan
  • shrublands
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: March 21, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 49374
Tall Timbers Record Number: 25745
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File and Tall Timbers Author File
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Research activities focused on estimating the direct emissions of carbon from wildland fires across North America are reviewed as part of the North American Carbon Program disturbance synthesis. A comparison of methods to estimate the loss of carbon from the terrestrial biosphere to the atmosphere from wildland fires is presented. Published studies on emissions from recent and historic time periods and five specific cases are summarized, and new emissions estimates are made using contemporary methods for a set of specific fire events. Results from as many as six terrestrial models are compared. We find that methods generally produce similar results within each case, but estimates vary based on site location, vegetation (fuel) type, and fire weather. Area normalized emissions range from 0.23 kg C m-2 for shrubland sites in southern California/NW Mexico to as high as 6.0 kg C m-2 in northern conifer forests. Total emissions range from 0.23 to 1.6 Tg C for a set of 2003 fires in chaparral-dominated landscapes of California to 3.9 to 6.2 Tg C in the dense conifer forests of western Oregon. While the results from models do not always agree, variations can be attributed to differences in model assumptions and methods, including the treatment of canopy consumption and methods to account for changes in fuel moisture, one of the main drivers of variability in fire emissions. From our review and synthesis, we identify key uncertainties and areas of improvement for understanding the magnitude and spatial-temporal patterns of pyrogenic carbon emissions across North America. © 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.

French, N. H. F. et al. 2011. Model comparisons for estimating carbon emissions from North American wildland fire. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, v. 116, p. G00K05 [online article no.]-21 pp [total pages online]. 10.1029/2010JG001469.