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

  • Minchao Wu
  • Wolfgang Knorr
  • Kirsten Thonicke
  • Guy Schurgers
  • Andrea Camia
  • Almut Arneth
Publishing year: 2015
Language: English
Pages: 2256-2272
Publication/Series: Journal of Geophysical Research - Biogeosciences
Volume: 120
Issue: 11
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: American Geophysical Union (AGU)

Abstract english

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.


  • Physical Geography
  • Environmental Sciences


  • Land-atmosphere interactions and regional Earth system dynamics due to natural and anthropogenic vegetation changes
  • ISSN: 2169-8953
E-mail: wolfgang [dot] knorr [at] nateko [dot] lu [dot] se

Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science
Lund University
Sölvegatan 12
S-223 62 Lund

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