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Impact of human population density on fire frequency at the global scale

Knorr, Wolfgang LU ; Kaminski, T.; Arneth, A. and Weber, U. (2014) In Biogeosciences 11(4). p.1085-1102
Abstract
Human impact on wildfires, a major earth system component, remains poorly understood. While local studies have found more fires close to settlements and roads, assimilated charcoal records and analyses of regional fire patterns from remote-sensing observations point to a decline in fire frequency with increasing human population. Here, we present a global analysis using three multi-year satellite-based burned-area products combined with a parameter estimation and uncertainty analysis with a non-linear model. We show that at the global scale, the impact of increasing population density is mainly to reduce fire frequency. Only for areas with up to 0.1 people per km(2), we find that fire frequency increases by 10 to 20% relative to its value... (More)
Human impact on wildfires, a major earth system component, remains poorly understood. While local studies have found more fires close to settlements and roads, assimilated charcoal records and analyses of regional fire patterns from remote-sensing observations point to a decline in fire frequency with increasing human population. Here, we present a global analysis using three multi-year satellite-based burned-area products combined with a parameter estimation and uncertainty analysis with a non-linear model. We show that at the global scale, the impact of increasing population density is mainly to reduce fire frequency. Only for areas with up to 0.1 people per km(2), we find that fire frequency increases by 10 to 20% relative to its value at no population. The results are robust against choice of burned-area data set, and indicate that at only very few places on earth, fire frequency is limited by human ignitions. Applying the results to historical population estimates results in a moderate but accelerating decline of global burned area by around 14% since 1800, with most of the decline since 1950. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Biogeosciences
volume
11
issue
4
pages
1085 - 1102
publisher
Copernicus Publications
external identifiers
  • wos:000334100300014
  • scopus:84896807123
ISSN
1726-4189
DOI
10.5194/bg-11-1085-2014
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
0154210f-e1f0-41fa-806a-b2f8c600b1a9 (old id 4439457)
date added to LUP
2014-05-20 13:34:27
date last changed
2017-10-22 03:14:09
@article{0154210f-e1f0-41fa-806a-b2f8c600b1a9,
  abstract     = {Human impact on wildfires, a major earth system component, remains poorly understood. While local studies have found more fires close to settlements and roads, assimilated charcoal records and analyses of regional fire patterns from remote-sensing observations point to a decline in fire frequency with increasing human population. Here, we present a global analysis using three multi-year satellite-based burned-area products combined with a parameter estimation and uncertainty analysis with a non-linear model. We show that at the global scale, the impact of increasing population density is mainly to reduce fire frequency. Only for areas with up to 0.1 people per km(2), we find that fire frequency increases by 10 to 20% relative to its value at no population. The results are robust against choice of burned-area data set, and indicate that at only very few places on earth, fire frequency is limited by human ignitions. Applying the results to historical population estimates results in a moderate but accelerating decline of global burned area by around 14% since 1800, with most of the decline since 1950.},
  author       = {Knorr, Wolfgang and Kaminski, T. and Arneth, A. and Weber, U.},
  issn         = {1726-4189},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {1085--1102},
  publisher    = {Copernicus Publications},
  series       = {Biogeosciences},
  title        = {Impact of human population density on fire frequency at the global scale},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.5194/bg-11-1085-2014},
  volume       = {11},
  year         = {2014},
}