A human-driven decline in global burned area.

Journal Article

Fire is an essential Earth system process that alters ecosystem and atmospheric composition. Here we assessed long-term fire trends using multiple satellite data sets. We found that global burned area declined by 24.3 ± 8.8% over the past 18 years. The estimated decrease in burned area remained robust after adjusting for precipitation variability and was largest in savannas. Agricultural expansion and intensification were primary drivers of declining fire activity. Fewer and smaller fires reduced aerosol concentrations, modified vegetation structure, and increased the magnitude of the terrestrial carbon sink. Fire models were unable to reproduce the pattern and magnitude of observed declines, suggesting that they may overestimate fire emissions in future projections. Using economic and demographic variables, we developed a conceptual model for predicting fire in human-dominated landscapes.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Andela, N; Morton, DC; Giglio, L; Chen, Y; van der Werf, GR; Kasibhatla, PS; DeFries, RS; Collatz, GJ; Hantson, S; Kloster, S; Bachelet, D; Forrest, M; Lasslop, G; Li, F; Mangeon, S; Melton, JR; Yue, C; Randerson, JT

Published Date

  • June 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 356 / 6345

Start / End Page

  • 1356 - 1362

PubMed ID

  • 28663495

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1095-9203

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0036-8075

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1126/science.aal4108

Language

  • eng