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Discussion papers | Copyright
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2018-89
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  05 Sep 2018

05 Sep 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Science Data (ESSD).

The Global Fire Atlas of individual fire size, duration, speed, and direction

Niels Andela1,2, Douglas C. Morton1, Louis Giglio3, Ronan Paugam4, Yang Chen2, Stijn Hantson2, Guido R. van der Werf5, and James T. Randerson2 Niels Andela et al.
  • 1Biospheric Sciences Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
  • 2Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA
  • 3Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
  • 4Centre Europe ́en de Recherche et de Formation Avance ́e en Calcul Scientifique, URA1875, CNRS, Toulouse, France
  • 5Faculty of Science, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherland

Abstract. Natural and human-ignited fires affect all major biomes, altering ecosystem structure, biogeochemical cycles, and atmospheric composition. Satellite observations provide global data on spatiotemporal patterns of biomass burning and evidence for rapid changes in global fire activity in response to land management and climate. Satellite imagery also provides detailed information on the daily or subdaily position of fires that can be used to understand the dynamics of individual fires. The Global Fire Atlas is a new global dataset that tracks the dynamics of individual fires to determine the timing and location of ignitions and fire size, duration, daily expansion, fire line length, speed, and direction of spread. Here we present the underlying methodology and Global Fire Atlas results for 2003–2016 derived from daily moderate resolution (500m) Collection 6 MCD64A1 burned area data. The algorithm identified 13.3 million individual fires over the study period, and estimated fire perimeters were in good agreement with independent data for the continental United States. A small number of large fires dominated sparsely populated arid and boreal ecosystems, while burned area in agricultural and other human-dominated landscapes was driven by high ignition densities that resulted in numerous smaller fires. Long-duration fires in the boreal regions and natural landscapes in the humid tropics suggest that fire-season length exerts a strong control on fire size and total burned area in these areas. In arid ecosystems with low fuel densities, high fire spread rates resulted in large, short-duration fires that quickly consumed available fuels. Importantly, multi-day fires contributed the majority of burned area in all biomass burning regions. A first analysis of the largest, longest, and fastest fires that occurred around the world revealed coherent regional patterns of extreme fires driven by large-scale climate forcing. Global Fire Atlas data are publicly available through www.globalfiredata.org/ and https://doi.org/10.3334/ORNLDAAC/1642, and individual fire information and summary data products provide new information for benchmarking fire models within ecosystem and Earth system models, understanding vegetation-fire feedbacks, improving global emissions estimates, and characterizing the changing role of fire in the Earth system.

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The Global Fire Atlas of individual fire size, duration, speed, and direction N. Andela, D. C. Morton, L. Giglio, and J. T. Randerson https://doi.org/10.3334/ORNLDAAC/1642

Niels Andela et al.
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Natural and human-ignited fires affect all major biomes, and satellite observations provide evidence for rapid changes in global fire activity. The Global Fire Atlas of individual fire size, duration, speed, and direction is the first global data product on individual fire behavior. Moving towards a global understanding of individual fire behavior is a critical next step in fire research, required to understand how global fire regimes are changing in response to land management and climate.
Natural and human-ignited fires affect all major biomes, and satellite observations provide...
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