The Open UniversitySkip to content

Modeling vegetation fires and fire emissions

Spessa, Allan; van der Werf, Guido; Thonicke, Kirsten; Gomez Dans, Jose; Lehsten, Veiko; Fisher, Rose and Forrest, Matthew (2013). Modeling vegetation fires and fire emissions. In: Goldammer, Johann Georg ed. Vegetation Fires and Global Change – Challenges for Concerted International Action. A White Paper directed to the United Nations and International Organizations. Kessel, pp. 181–207.

Full text available as:
PDF (Version of Record) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (283kB) | Preview
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


Fire is the most important ecological and forest disturbance agent worldwide, is a major way by which carbon is transferred from the land to the atmosphere, and is globally a significant source of greenhouse gases and aerosols. Wildfires across all major biome types globally consume about 5% of net annual terrestrial primary production per annum, and release about 2-4 Pg C per annum, of which approximately 0.6 Pg C comes from tropical deforestation and below-ground peat fires. The global figure is equivalent to about 20-30% of global emissions from fossil fuels. Tropical savannas comprise the largest areas burned and greatest emissions sources from vegetation wildfires. Fires in Mediterranean forests and shrublands, tropical forests and boreal forests are also significant sources of emissions because they are generally characterised by much higher fuel loads per unit area compared with grasslands. Improved satellite data and sophisticated biogeochemical modeling enables emis-sions assessments on a global scale with fine spatial and temporal resolution. Emissions estimates are still comparable to those based on older inventory-based techniques, but uncertainties remain large. Fires increase during El Niño periods because parts of the tropics where humans use fire as a tool for deforestation experience drought conditions. These spikes contribute to the inter-annual variability of CO2 and CH4 observed in the atmosphere. Recently developed dynamic fire-vegetation models are capable of simulating the extent of wildfires as well as their emissions of CO2 and other greenhouse gases for ambient as well as for projected climatic conditions. The performance of fire-vegetation models however needs to be strongly improved and validated.

Item Type: Book Section
Copyright Holders: 2013 Kessel Publishing House
ISBN: 3-941300-78-4, 978-3-941300-78-1
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) > Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences
Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
Item ID: 39953
Depositing User: Allan Spessa
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2014 09:59
Last Modified: 09 Dec 2018 20:36
Share this page:

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU