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FAO Committee on Forestry 2009
Special Event Climate Change and Fire
18 March 2009
Vegetation Fires and Climate Change
Interactions
Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC)
UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR)
Global Wildland Fire Network and Wildland Fire Advisory Group
Canadian Forest Service, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry
Reading University, University of Maryland / GOFC-GOLD
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Presented by Johann Georg Goldammer
GFMC
Vegetation Fires and Climate Change
Interactions
Issues
 Global Vegetation Fire Occurrence and Assessments
 Vegetation fire emission assessments: Magnitude of
contribution to anthropogenic climate change
 Impact of climate change on fire regimes and future
emission scenarios / feedback loops
 The context: FRA, UNFCCC-REDD ….
Fire Functioning & Feedbacks
in the Earth System
Land Cover &
Vegetation
Composition
rainfall, temperature,
radiation, [CO2]
logging,
agriculture
Land use
Soil
nutrient
supply
plant mortality &
reproduction
deforestation
lightning
wind
grazing
Fuel
Quantity
Climate
Ignition
source
FIRE
rainfall,
temperature
Fuel
Moisture
Atmospheric
Chemistry
trace gas & aerosol emissions
albedo, water
& energy
fluxes
Source: A. Spessa, Reading University
Seasonal Variability of Global Vegetation Fires (2005)
Global Land Use Fires: Agriculture
45000
40000
Fire Counts
35000
30000
2001
25000
2002
20000
2003
15000
10000
5000
0
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Month
Source: Korontzi et al., 2007
Vegetation Fire Emissions
• CO2 – Climatically relevant only when there is
no regrowth - e.g., deforestation & degradation,
loss of organic layers / peat
• NOx, CO, CH4, other hydrocarbons
– Ingredients of smog chemistry,
greenhouse gases
• Halogenated hydrocarbons (e.g.
CH3Br)
– Stratospheric ozone chemistry
• Aerosols
– Light scattering and absorbing, cloud
condensation nuclei (CCN)
Experimental Burn Data:
Example – Boreal Forest, Canada
Same forest stand (same fuel
conditions), different fire weather
(2 days between fires)
Fire Weather Index = 34
Carbon Emissions: 19.5 t/ha
Fire Weather Index = 17
5 August 1974
Carbon Emissions:
3 August 1974
Darwin Lk Exp. Burning Project, NWT
Source: W.J. de Groot
7.5 t/ha
Summary of C Loss Data
Example – Boreal Forest, Canada
• Crown fuels
C storage: 5-85 t/ha
C loss:
0.5-11 t/ha
• Surface fuels
C storage: 2-12 t/ha
C loss:
0.5-8 t/ha
Atmosphere
Bark,
branches and
submerchantable
trees
Snag
branches
Foliage
Snag
stems
Black
carbon
Stemwood
Fast DOM
Medium DOM
above ground
(dead branches)
(dead logs)
Very fast
DOM
(past burn)
• Forest floor fuels
C storage: 1.5-42 t/ha
C loss:
0.5-20 t/ha
Source: W.J. de Groot
Fine roots
below ground
Slow DOM
above ground
(duff)
Fast DOM
below ground
(dead roots)
Very fast
DOM
above ground
(litter)
Coarse roots
Slow DOM
below ground
Cyclic Nature of Fire and Carbon Sequestration
Data from Wood Buffalo National Park, Northern Canada, simulations are
from the Boreal Fire Effects Model using fire weather data outputs from
Hadley and Canadian GCMs
Jack Pine Stand C Storage - 75yr fire cycle
Carbon (t/ha)
150
100
50
0
0
50
100
150
200
Time (yrs)
Source: W.J. de Groot and D.J. McRae
250
300
350
Vegetation Biomass Burned
Worldwide:
9.2 billion tonnes (metric)
annually
Agricultural
waste (1190)
Charcoal prod.
& use (200)
Savannas (3160)
Domestic fuel
(2660)
Tropical Forest
(1330)
Extratropical
Forest (640)
Source: Andreae and Merlet (2001), Max Planck Institute for Chemistry
Global Fire Emissions
Mean annual fire carbon emissions, averaged over 1997–2006 (g C / m2 / yr)
(Note: 100 g C / m2 = 1 t / ha)
Average carbon emitted (gross) = 2.5 billion tons / year (30% of fossil fuel emissions)
Average CH4 emissions (gross) = 21 million tons / year (~5% of all sources)
Source: Van der Werf et al., 2006, ACP
Global Fire Emissions
Global total carbon (C) emissions from deforestation fires (1997-2006) = Net
release of carbon to the atmosphere:
On average 0.6 billion t C / year
Source: Van der Werf et al., 2006, ACP
Impact of climate change on fire regimes and
future emission scenarios / feedback loops
El Niño - Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and Fire
in South Sumatra
4
12000
3
8000
2006
2005
2004
2003
2002
2001
2000
1999
1998
0
6000
-1
-2
4000
-3
2000
-4
-5
0
Year
Increasing occurrence and
severities of El Niño – a
consequence of regional
warming?
Number of NOAA/MODISdetected active fires in South
Sumatra
1
1997
Sea Level Pressure Indonesia
(Standardized Anomalies)
10000
2
Source: GTZ South
Sumatra Fire
Management Project
(SSFMP)
Changing Fire Regime
Total Forest Carbon Storage
Carbon (Mt)
450
Aspen/white spruce
300
Aspen
White spruce
Black spruce
150
Jack pine
0
1975-1990
2080-2100
Source: W.J. de Groot
Boreal Wildland Fire
Summary
• Boreal forest stores 1/3 of terrestrial ecosystem carbon
• Total forest area: 1300 million ha
• Average annual area burned: 10-25 million ha (highly variable)
• Fire activity has steadily increased during the last 30-40 years
(area burned has doubled in North American boreal)
• This trend is expected to continue into the future
• Current (1975-1995) emissions: 0.648 billion t / yr CO2
equivalent
• Estimated 2080-2100 emissions: 1.252 billion t / yr CO2
equivalent
Boreal Wildland Fire
Summary
Note:
Carbon dioxide equivalent (CDE) is a measure for
describing how much global warming a given type and
amount of greenhouse gas may cause, using the
functionally equivalent amount or concentration of carbon
dioxide (CO2) as the reference
Conclusions Vegetation Fire Emissions:
• Considerable progress achieved at determining
emission factors from vegetation fires
• Global and regional emission estimates are still
problematic, mostly because of uncertainties
regarding amounts of phytomass burned
• Excessive use of fire resulting in deforestation and
ecosystem degradation is a significant driver of
climate change (as well as a human health risk)
• GOFC/GOLD, ISDR and GFMC are discussing the
coordination of a satellite-based global fire
assessment and a global fire early warning system
Conclusions Changing Fire Regimes:
• Increasing fire severities and area burned, results in
decreased total long-term C storage
• A future shift in species composition (and fuel types)
will change general forest flammability; the effect of
this is currently unknown
Canada: Average Monthly Severity Rating (MSR)
1980-1989 (left) and 2090-2099 (right)
Overall Conclusions Climate Change - Fire
Interactions (I):
• Extreme fires and their limited “controllability” in
the recent years (Australia, California, Greece,
Portugal, Russia … and the less reported in
Africa, Asia and Latin America) are primarily an
expression of indirect consequences of land-use
change and increasing vulnerability of societies
• However, in order to reduce the destructivity of
human-driven wildfires enhanced global capacity
in assessing, modelling and managing vegetation
fires is required
Overall Conclusions Climate Change - Fire
Interactions (II):
• Commitments by the majority of governments and
international institutions are insufficient to address
fire management appropriately
• Governments are urged to provide the United
Nations family with financial resources to support
partner institutions, network and countries to
address the problem
• Fire management to become a major effort under
the post-Kyoto regime (REDD) as well as in FLEG,
CCD, CBD and disaster risk reduction (UNISDR /
Hyogo Framework)
FAO Committee on Forestry 2009
Special Event Climate Change and Fire
18 March 2009
Vegetation Fires and Climate Change
Interactions
Thanks for your attention