Modelling fire at the global scale and its regional and methodological challenges
Kirsten Thonicke, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
Wildfires are a global phenomenon and an Earth system process, while humans use of fire has created cultural landscapes over centuries. In many regions vegetation is adapted to a specific fire regime, often for centuries. In recent decades global biomass burning has released between 1.5 and 4 PgC p.a., depending on climate conditions causing extreme heat and droughts. These are the challenges global fire models, embedded in dynamic global vegetation models have to meet, to allow projecting climate-change impacts on fire and vegetation as well as advancing our understanding on the role of fire on tipping points. I will explain the concept of a process-based fire model embedded in a dynamic global vegetation model, its application to European and tropical fire regimes and how parameter optimization techniques can help to improve both, the interannual variability of fire and the distribution of vegetation types. Coupling the fire-enabled DGVM to an Earth System Model allows to investigate the role of fire in accelerating the risk to cross future Amazon tipping points.