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Changes in fire regimes since the last glacial maximum: an assessment based on a global synthesis and analysis of charcoal data

Power, M.J., Marlon, J., Ortiz, N., Bartlein, P.J., Harrison, S.P., Mayle, F.E., Ballouche, A., Bradshaw, R.H.W., Carcaillet, C., Cordova, C., Mooney, S., Moreno, P.I., Prentice, I.C., Thonicke, K., Tinner, W., Whitlock, C., Zhang, Y., Zhao, Y., Ali, A.A., Anderson, R.S., Beer, R., Behling, H., Briles, C., Brown, K.J., Brunelle, A., Bush, M., Camill, P., Chu, G.Q., Clark, J., Colombaroli, D., Connor, S., Daniau, A.-L., Daniels, M., Dodson, J., Doughty, E., Edwards, M.E., Finsinger, W., Foster, D., Frechette, J., Gaillard, M.-J., Gavin, D.G., Gobet, E., Haberle, S., Hallett, D.J., Higuera, P., Hope, G., Horn, S., Inoue, J., Kaltenrieder, P., Kennedy, L., Kong, Z.C., Larsen, C., Long, C.J., Lynch, J., Lynch, E.A., McGlone, M., Meeks, S., Mensing, S., Meyer, G., Minckley, T., Mohr, J., Nelson, D.M., New, J., Newnham, R., Noti, R., Oswald, W., Pierce, J., Richard, P.J.H., Rowe, C., Sanchez Goñi, M.F., Shuman, B.N., Takahara, H., Toney, J., Turney, C., Urrego-Sanchez, D.H., Umbanhowar, C., Vandergoes, M., Vanniere, B., Vescovi, E., Walsh, M., Wang, X., Williams, N., Wilmshurst, J. and Zhang, J.H. (2008) Changes in fire regimes since the last glacial maximum: an assessment based on a global synthesis and analysis of charcoal data Climate Dynamics, 30, (7-8), pp. 887-907. (doi:10.1007/s00382-007-0334-x).

Record type: Article


Fire activity has varied globally and continuously since the last glacial maximum (LGM) in response to long-term changes in global climate and shorter-term regional changes in climate, vegetation, and human land use. We have synthesized sedimentary charcoal records of biomass burning since the LGM and present global maps showing changes in fire activity for time slices during the past 21,000 years (as differences in charcoal accumulation values compared to pre-industrial). There is strong broad-scale coherence in fire activity after the LGM, but spatial heterogeneity in the signals increases thereafter. In North America, Europe and southern South America, charcoal records indicate less-than-present fire activity during the deglacial period, from 21,000 to ?11,000 cal yr BP. In contrast, the tropical latitudes of South America and Africa show greater-than-present fire activity from ?19,000 to ?17,000 cal yr BP and most sites from Indochina and Australia show greater-than-present fire activity from 16,000 to ?13,000 cal yr BP. Many sites indicate greater-than-present or near-present activity during the Holocene with the exception of eastern North America and eastern Asia from 8,000 to ?3,000 cal yr BP, Indonesia and Australia from 11,000 to 4,000 cal yr BP, and southern South America from 6,000 to 3,000 cal yr BP where fire activity was less than present. Regional coherence in the patterns of change in fire activity was evident throughout the post-glacial period. These complex patterns can largely be explained in terms of large-scale climate controls modulated by local changes in vegetation and fuel load.

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Published date: June 2008
Keywords: palaeoenvironmental reconstruction, biomass burning, palaeofire regimes, charcoal, data-model comparisons


Local EPrints ID: 146711
ISSN: 0930-7575
PURE UUID: 42cf5cb0-a493-45b7-9634-e4a2eed27c37
ORCID for M.E. Edwards: ORCID iD

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Date deposited: 22 Apr 2010 09:46
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 23:03

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Author: M.J. Power
Author: J. Marlon
Author: N. Ortiz
Author: P.J. Bartlein
Author: S.P. Harrison
Author: F.E. Mayle
Author: A. Ballouche
Author: R.H.W. Bradshaw
Author: C. Carcaillet
Author: C. Cordova
Author: S. Mooney
Author: P.I. Moreno
Author: I.C. Prentice
Author: K. Thonicke
Author: W. Tinner
Author: C. Whitlock
Author: Y. Zhang
Author: Y. Zhao
Author: A.A. Ali
Author: R.S. Anderson
Author: R. Beer
Author: H. Behling
Author: C. Briles
Author: K.J. Brown
Author: A. Brunelle
Author: M. Bush
Author: P. Camill
Author: G.Q. Chu
Author: J. Clark
Author: D. Colombaroli
Author: S. Connor
Author: A.-L. Daniau
Author: M. Daniels
Author: J. Dodson
Author: E. Doughty
Author: M.E. Edwards ORCID iD
Author: W. Finsinger
Author: D. Foster
Author: J. Frechette
Author: M.-J. Gaillard
Author: D.G. Gavin
Author: E. Gobet
Author: S. Haberle
Author: D.J. Hallett
Author: P. Higuera
Author: G. Hope
Author: S. Horn
Author: J. Inoue
Author: P. Kaltenrieder
Author: L. Kennedy
Author: Z.C. Kong
Author: C. Larsen
Author: C.J. Long
Author: J. Lynch
Author: E.A. Lynch
Author: M. McGlone
Author: S. Meeks
Author: S. Mensing
Author: G. Meyer
Author: T. Minckley
Author: J. Mohr
Author: D.M. Nelson
Author: J. New
Author: R. Newnham
Author: R. Noti
Author: W. Oswald
Author: J. Pierce
Author: P.J.H. Richard
Author: C. Rowe
Author: M.F. Sanchez Goñi
Author: B.N. Shuman
Author: H. Takahara
Author: J. Toney
Author: C. Turney
Author: D.H. Urrego-Sanchez
Author: C. Umbanhowar
Author: M. Vandergoes
Author: B. Vanniere
Author: E. Vescovi
Author: M. Walsh
Author: X. Wang
Author: N. Williams
Author: J. Wilmshurst
Author: J.H. Zhang

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