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Causal relationships versus emergent patterns in the global controls of fire frequency

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Title: Causal relationships versus emergent patterns in the global controls of fire frequency
Authors: Bistinas, I
Harrison, SP
Prentice, IC
Pereira, JMC
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Global controls on month-by-month fractional burnt area (2000–2005) were investigated by fitting a generalised linear model (GLM) to Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED) data, with 11 predictor variables representing vegetation, climate, land use and potential ignition sources. Burnt area is shown to increase with annual net primary production (NPP), number of dry days, maximum temperature, grazing-land area, grass/shrub cover and diurnal temperature range, and to decrease with soil moisture, cropland area and population density. Lightning showed an apparent (weak) negative influence, but this disappeared when pure seasonal-cycle effects were taken into account. The model predicts observed geographic and seasonal patterns, as well as the emergent relationships seen when burnt area is plotted against each variable separately. Unimodal relationships with mean annual temperature and precipitation, population density and gross domestic product (GDP) are reproduced too, and are thus shown to be secondary consequences of correlations between different controls (e.g. high NPP with high precipitation; low NPP with low population density and GDP). These findings have major implications for the design of global fire models, as several assumptions in current models – most notably, the widely assumed dependence of fire frequency on ignition rates – are evidently incorrect.
Issue Date: 22-Sep-2014
Date of Acceptance: 19-Aug-2014
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/69639
DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.5194/bg-11-5087-2014
ISSN: 1726-4170
Publisher: Copernicus Publications
Start Page: 5087
End Page: 5101
Journal / Book Title: Biogeosciences
Volume: 11
Issue: 18
Copyright Statement: © 2014 Author(s). This work is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).
Keywords: Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Physical Sciences
Ecology
Geosciences, Multidisciplinary
Environmental Sciences & Ecology
Geology
CLIMATE-CHANGE
UNITED-STATES
BURNED AREA
REGRESSION-ANALYSIS
VEGETATION MODEL
WILDFIRE
REGIMES
FOREST
SYSTEM
EMISSIONS
04 Earth Sciences
05 Environmental Sciences
06 Biological Sciences
Meteorology & Atmospheric Sciences
Publication Status: Published
Open Access location: https://www.biogeosciences.net/11/5087/2014/bg-11-5087-2014.pdf
Online Publication Date: 2014-09-22
Appears in Collections:Department of Life Sciences
Grantham Institute for Climate Change