Variability of fire emissions on interannual to multi-decadal timescales in two earth system models
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Daniel S. Ward; Elena Shevliakova; Sergey Malyshev; Jean-François Lamarque; A. T. Wittenberg
Publication Year: 2016

Cataloging Information

  • air quality
  • biomass burning emissions
  • boreal forest fire
  • burned area
  • climate change
  • Climate System
  • climate variability
  • earth system models
  • El-Nino
  • ENSO - El Nino Southern Oscillation
  • Global Vegetation Model
  • Sea-Surface Temperature
  • South America
  • Western North-America
  • Wood Harvest
  • International
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: October 2, 2020
FRAMES Record Number: 55422
Tall Timbers Record Number: 33440
TTRS Location Status: Not in file
TTRS Call Number: Available
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay

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.


Connections between wildfires and modes of variability in climate are sought as a means for predicting fire activity on interannual to multi-decadal timescales. Several fire drivers, such as temperature and local drought index, have been shown to vary on these timescales, and analysis of tree-ring data suggests covariance between fires and climate oscillation indices in some regions. However, the shortness of the satellite record of global fire events limits investigations on larger spatial scales. Here we explore the interplay between climate variability and wildfire emissions with the preindustrial long control numerical experiments and historical ensembles of CESM1 and theNOAA/GFDL ESM2Mb. Wefind that interannual variability in fires is underpredicted in both Earth System models (ESMs) compared to present day fire emission inventories. Modeled fire emissions respond to the El Nino/southern oscillation (ENSO) and Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) with increases in southeast Asia and boreal North America emissions, and decreases in southern North America and Sahel emissions, during the ENSO warm phase in both ESMs, and thePDOwarm phase in CESM1. Additionally, CESM1 produces decreases in boreal northern hemisphere fire emissions for the warm phase of the Atlantic Meridional Oscillation. Through analysis of the long control simulations, we show that the 20th century trends in both ESMs are statistically significant, meaning that the signal of anthropogenic activity on fire emissions over this time period is detectable above the annual to decadal timescale noise. However, the trends simulated by the two ESMs are of opposite sign (CESM1 decreasing, ESM2Mb increasing), highlighting the need for improved understanding, proxy observations, and modeling to resolve this discrepancy. © 2016 IOP Publishing Ltd.

Online Link(s):
Ward, D. S., E. Shevliakova, S. Malyshev, J. F. Lamarque, and A. T. Wittenberg. 2016. Variability of fire emissions on interannual to multi-decadal timescales in two earth system models. Environmental Research Letters, v. 11, no. 12, p. 25008. 10.1088/1748-9326/11/12/125008.