Spatial variability in Holocene wildfire responses to environmental change in the northern extratropics

The northern extratropics has experienced increases in fire activity in recent decades, which have had important consequences for ecosystems, carbon cycling and human societies. There is currently wide uncertainty in predictions of how fire will respond to climate changes in this region in the coming decades. Studying fire responses over palaeo timescales provides a window into how fire may respond to large environmental changes, which are anticipated to play out over the course of this century. This project will leverage a newly-created global palaeo charcoal database, the Reading Palaeofire Database, to reconstruct changes in biomass burning across the circum-northern extratropics over the Holocene. It will attempt to explain patterns in fire activity over millennia in this region by quantitatively linking sub-continental scale fire responses to climate, vegetation and human-induced landscape shifts. This will provide novel insights into the importance of various environmental reorganisations in shaping fire regimes, which can directly contribute to attempts at better constraining predictions of future changes in wildfire patterns.

Project Duration: 2019-2023