Quantifying burned area for North American forests: implications for direct reduction of carbon stocks
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): E. S. Kasischke; T. Loboda; L. Giglio; N. H.F. French; E. E. Hoy; B. de Jong; D. Riano
Publication Year: 2011

Cataloging Information

  • Canada
  • carbon
  • fire frequency
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • fire size
  • forest management
  • GIS
  • season of fire
  • surface fires
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 50024
Tall Timbers Record Number: 26543
TTRS Location Status: Not in file
TTRS Call Number: Not in File
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, 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.


A synthesis was carried out to analyze information available to quantify fire activity and burned area across North America, including a comparison of different data sources and an assessment of how variations in burned area estimate impact carbon emissions from fires. Data sets maintained by fire management agencies provide the longest record of burned area information. Canada and Alaska have the most well developed data sets consisting of the perimeters of large fires (>200 ha) going back to 1959 and 1950, respectively. A similar data set back to 1980 exists for the Conterminous U.S., but contains data only from federal land management agencies. During the early half of the 20th century, average burned area across North America ranged between 10 and 20 x 106 ha yr-1, largely because of frequent surface fires in the southeastern U. S. Over the past two decades, an average of 5 x 106 ha yr-1 has burned. Moderate-resolution (500-1000 m) satellite burned area products information products appear to either underestimate burned area (GFED3 and MCD45A1) or significantly overestimate burned area (L3JRC and GLOBCARBON). Of all the satellite data products, the GFED3 data set provides the most consistent source of burned area when compared to fire management data. Because they do not suitably reflect actual fire activity, the L3JRC and GLOBCARBON burned area data sets are not suitable for use in carbon cycle studies in North America. The MCD45A1 data set appears to map a higher fraction of burned area in low biomass areas compared to the GFED3 data set. © 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.

Kasischke, E. S., T. Loboda, L. Giglio, N. H. F. French, E. E. Hoy, B. de Jong, and D. Riano. 2011. Quantifying burned area for North American forests: implications for direct reduction of carbon stocks. Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, v. 116, p. G04003 [online article no.]-17 p. [total pages online]. 10.1027/2011JG001707.