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Changes in fire regimes since the Last Glacial Maximum: an assessment based on a global synthesis and analysis of charcoal data

Figure 4a. Global map of mean Z scores of charcoal values for 1,000 to 100 cal yr BP. Figure 4a
Global map of mean Z scores of charcoal values for 1,000 to 100 cal yr BP illustrates sites that have higher (red) or lower (blue) average charcoal values during the last millennia when compared to the last four millennia. The global anomaly maps (b-h) at 3,000- year time slices, beginning at 21,000 through 3,000 cal yr BP, permit comparisons of change in charcoal accumulation relative to present (1,000 to 100 cal yr BP). The continental palaeogeographies are mapped for 21,000 and 6,000 cal yr BP. The anomaly maps reveal both the considerable spatial heterogeneity as well as regional coherencies of global charcoal.
Click image for full figure.
Changes in fire regimes since the Last Glacial Maximum: an assessment based on a global synthesis and analysis of charcoal data.

Climate Dynamics
Volume 30, Numbers 7-8, June 2008. doi:10.1007/s00382-007-0334-x

Power, M.J., Marlon, J., Bartlein, P.J., Harrison, S.P., Mayle, F.E., Ballouche, A., Bradshaw, R., Carcaillet, C., Cordova, C., Mooney, S., Moreno, P., Prentice, I.C., Thonicke, K., Tinner, W., Whitlock, C., Zhang, Y., Zhao, Y., Anderson, R.S., Beer, R., Behling, H., Briles, C., Brown, K.J., Brunelle A., Bush, M., Camill, P., Chu, G.Q., Clark, J., Colombaroli, D., Connor, S., Daniels, M., Daniau, A.-L., Dodson, J., Doughty, E., Edwards, M.E., Fisinger, W., Foster, D., Frechette J., Gaillard, M.-J., Gil-Romera, G. Gavin, D.G., Gobet, E., Haberle, S., Hallett, D.J., Higuera, P., Hope, G., Horn, S., Impagliazzo, S., Inoue, J., Kaltenrieder, P., Kennedy, L., Kong, Z.C., Larsen, C., Long, C.J., Lynch, J., Lynch, B., McGlone, M., Meeks, S., Mensing, S., Meyer, G., Minckley, T., Mohr, J, Nelson, D., New, J., Newnham, R., Noti, R., Oswald, W., Pierce, J., Richard, P.J.H., Rowe, C., Sanchez Goñi, M.F., Shuman, B.J., Takahara, H., Toney, J., Turney, C., Umbanhower, C., Vandergoes, M., Vanniere, B., Vescovi, E., Walsh, M., Wang, X., Williams, N., Wilmshurst, J., Zhang, J.H.
Fire activity has varied globally and continuously since the last glacial maximum (LGM) in response to long-term changes in global climate and shorter-term regional changes in climate, vegetation, and human land use. We have synthesized sedimentary charcoal records of biomass burning since the LGM and present global maps showing changes in fire activity for time slices during the past 21,000 years (as differences in charcoal accumulation values compared to pre-industrial). There is strong broadscale coherence in fire activity after the LGM, but spatial heterogeneity in the signals increases thereafter. In North America, Europe and southern South America, charcoal records indicate less-than-present fire activity during the deglacial period, from 21,000 to ~11,000 cal yr BP. In contrast, the tropical latitudes of South America and Africa show greater-than-present fire activity from ~19,000 to ~17,000 cal yr BP and most sites from Indochina and Australia show greater-than-present fire activity from 16,000 to ~13,000 cal yr BP. Many sites indicate greater-than-present or near-present activity during the Holocene with the exception of eastern North America and eastern Asia from 8,000 to ~3,000 cal yr BP, Indonesia and Australia from 11,000 to 4,000 cal yr BP, and southern South America from 6,000 to 3,000 cal yr BP where fire activity was less than present. Regional coherence in the patterns of change in fire activity was evident throughout the post-glacial period. These complex patterns can largely be explained in terms of large-scale climate controls modulated by local changes in vegetation and fuel load.

Download data from the WDC Paleo archive:
Global Charcoal Database

To read or view the full study, please visit the SpringerLink website.
It was published in Climate Dynamics, Volume 30, Numbers 7-8, pp. 887-907, June 2008. doi:10.1007/s00382-007-0334-x.

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