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Climate change impacts on fire regimes and air quality in northern Eurasia

January, 2014

Global surface temperatures have increased about 0.89°C during the period from 1901 to 2012. Northern Eurasia has experienced the greatest temperature increase to date and is projected to continue experiencing the largest temperature increase globally. High-latitude boreal and temperate ecosystems are particularly sensitive to climate change, and fire – a major disturbance in these ecosystems – responds rapidly to climate change.

The RMRS Smoke Emission and Dispersion Research Team has been investigating the impacts of climate change on current and future fire regimes and air quality in northern Eurasia. Led by Research Chemist Wei Min Hao, the team is studying climate impacts on changes in vegetation type and conditions, frequency of fires, length of fire season, spatial-temporal distribution of the area burned, and smoke emissions.


This joint project is carried out in cooperation with the French Nuclear Energy Commission (CEA), France’s premier national science and engineering laboratory. The joint project leveraged the team’s strengths in fire science, satellite remote sensing, and fire emissions; and the CEA’s expertise in carbon cycling, atmospheric chemistry, and supercomputing. Researchers studied and simulated the current land cover and fire regimes using the state-of-the-art global dynamic vegetation model, which is part of the French Earth System Model. The simulation was accomplished by downloading global climate data and the global climate model over a high speed Internet2 connection, and then simulating the climate model for northern Eurasia using the team’s high-performance computing system. Results revealed that temperature is one of the major factors affecting annual area burned. This research supports development of a model to predict future fire regimes for northern Eurasia as climate continues to change.

For more information, please visit Black Carbon from Fire in Northern Eurasia.

MODIS-detected burned area in Northern Eurasia in 2010 as used in the simulation model

MODIS-detected burned area in northern Eurasia in 2010 as used in the simulation model.

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