Fire ecology

  • Article
    | Open Access

    Fire activity in China and its associations with climate are not well quantified at a local scale. Here, the authors present a detailed fire occurrence dataset for China and find a dipole fire pattern between southwestern and southeastern China that is modulated by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

    • Keyan Fang
    • , Qichao Yao
    •  & Valerie Trouet
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Fires triggered by climate change threaten plant diversity in many biomes. Here the authors investigate how the catastrophic fires of 2019–2020 affected the vascular flora of SE Australia. They report that 816 species were highly impacted, including taxa of biogeographic and conservation interest.

    • Robert C. Godfree
    • , Nunzio Knerr
    •  & Linda M. Broadhurst
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Droughts pose an increasingly important threat to forests. Here the authors analyse a high-resolution Landsat-based dataset of forest canopy mortality in Europe over 1987–2016 to show that drought is already a major driver of tree mortality.

    • Cornelius Senf
    • , Allan Buras
    •  & Rupert Seidl
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Fire is an important component of many African ecosystems, but prediction of fire activity is challenging. Here, the authors use a statistical framework to assess the seasonal environmental drivers of African fire, which allow for a better prediction of fire activity.

    • Yan Yu
    • , Jiafu Mao
    •  & Yaoping Wang
  • Article
    | Open Access

    A primary element of modern wildfire management is to aggressively suppress small fires before they become large, but benefits can be offset by the fact that these practices promote older forests that are more ‘flammable’. Here the authors show that this downside puts numerous human communities at elevated risk of fires in boreal Canada.

    • Marc-André Parisien
    • , Quinn E. Barber
    •  & Sean A. Parks
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The impacts of forest fire activity in the western US on snow melt are poorly quantified. Here the authors use satellite and field-based observations to document a four-fold increase in the solar forcing on snow in western burned forests from 1999 to 2018.

    • Kelly E. Gleason
    • , Joseph R. McConnell
    •  & Wendy M. Calvin
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Understanding the role of forest fires in Earth’s climate system is critical to predict future fire-climate interactions. Here the authors show that fire-induced forest loss accounts for ~15% of global forest loss and that its impact on surface temperature depends on evapotranspiration and albedo.

    • Zhihua Liu
    • , Ashley P. Ballantyne
    •  & L. Annie Cooper
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Future permafrost thaw may be underestimated unless effects of wildfire are considered. Here the authors show that wildfires in boreal permafrost peatlands influence soil temperature and seasonal thaw depth for several decades, and increase the rate of complete permafrost thaw along permafrost edges.

    • Carolyn M. Gibson
    • , Laura E. Chasmer
    •  & David Olefeldt
  • Article
    | Open Access

    The management of fire season has been proposed as a climate mitigation tool but the scope and scale of this action is unclear. Here the authors use global emissions datasets to assess emissions mitigation opportunities for savanna fires, highlighting significant reduction potential in 37 countries.

    • Geoffrey J. Lipsett-Moore
    • , Nicholas H. Wolff
    •  & Edward T. Game
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Vegetation fires contribute to global carbon emissions, but uncertainty exists due to inconsistencies in the treatment of post-burn combustion. Here, it is shown that the ‘consumed biomass’ approach overestimates emissions by 4%, which can be corrected using an alternative ‘burnt carbon’ method.

    • N. C. Surawski
    • , A. L. Sullivan
    •  & P. J. Polglase
  • Article
    | Open Access

    Global wildfires can have severe societal implications and economic cost and have been strongly linked to climate. Here, the authors analyse daily global wildfire trends and show that, during the past 35 years, wildfire season length has increased by 18.7% over more than a quarter of the Earth’s surface.

    • W. Matt Jolly
    • , Mark A. Cochrane
    •  & David M. J. S. Bowman
  • Article |

    Understanding the environmental controls of past wildfires is difficult due to the lack of records of weather or vegetation. This study shows, using cross-scale analysis, how power laws associated with fire-event time series can identify critical thresholds in landscape dynamics in a rapidly changing climate.

    • Donald McKenzie
    •  & Maureen C. Kennedy