Sensitivity of burned area in Europe to climate change, atmospheric CO2 levels, and demography: a comparison of two fire-vegetation models

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  • Minchao Wu
  • Wolfgang Knorr
  • Kirsten Thonicke
  • Schurgers, Guy
  • Andrea Camia
  • Almut Arneth
Global environmental changes and human activity influence wildland fires worldwide, but the relative importance of the individual factors varies regionally and their interplay can be difficult to disentangle. Here we evaluate projected future changes in burned area at the European and sub-European scale, and we investigate uncertainties in the relative importance of the determining factors. We simulated future burned area with LPJ-GUESS-SIMFIRE, a patch-dynamic global vegetation model with a semiempirical fire model, and LPJmL-SPITFIRE, a dynamic global vegetation model with a process-based fire model. Applying a range of future projections that combine different scenarios for climate changes, enhanced CO2 concentrations, and population growth, we investigated the individual and combined effects of these drivers on the total area and regions affected by fire in the 21st century. The two models differed notably with respect to the dominating drivers and underlying processes. Fire-vegetation interactions and socioeconomic effects emerged as important uncertainties for future burned area in some European regions. Burned area of eastern Europe increased in both models, pointing at an emerging new fire-prone region that should gain further attention for future fire management.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)2256–2272
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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