Skip to Main Content
Model comparisons for estimating carbon emissions from North American wildland fireAuthor(s): Nancy H.F. French; William J. de Groot; Liza K. Jenkins; Brendan M. Rogers; Ernesto Alvarado; Brian Amiro; Bernardus De Jong; Scott Goetz; Elizabeth Hoy; Edward Hyer; Robert Keane; B.E. Law; Donald McKenzie; Steven G. McNulty; Roger Ottmar; Diego R. Perez-Salicrup; James Randerson; Kevin M. Robertson; Merritt Turetsky
Source: Journal of Geophysical Research.116: G00K05. 21 p
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
Download Publication (2.8 MB)
DescriptionResearch activities focused on estimating the direct emissions of carbon from wildland fires across North America are reviewed as part of the North American Carbon Program disturbance synthesis. A comparison of methods to estimate the loss of carbon from the terrestrial biosphere to the atmosphere from wildland fires is presented. Published studies on emissions from recent and historic time periods and five specific cases are summarized, and new emissions estimates are made using contemporary methods for a set of specific fire events. Results from as many as six terrestrial models are compared. We find that methods generally produce similar results within each case, but estimates vary based on site location, vegetation (fuel) type, and fire weather. Area normalized emissions range from 0.23 kg C m-2 for shrubland sites in southern California/NW Mexico to as high as 6.0 kg C m-2 in northern conifer forests. Total emissions range from 0.23 to 1.6 Tg C for a set of 2003 fires in chaparral-dominated landscapes of California to 3.9 to 6.2 Tg C in the dense conifer forests of western Oregon. While the results from models do not always agree, variations can be attributed to differences in model assumptions and methods, including the treatment of canopy consumption and methods to account for changes in fuel moisture, one of the main drivers of variability in fire emissions. From our review and synthesis, we identify key uncertainties and areas of improvement for understanding the magnitude and spatial-temporal patterns of pyrogenic carbon emissions across North America.
- Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
CitationFrench, Nancy H.F.; de Groot, William J.; Jenkins, Liza K.; Rogers, Brendan M.; Alvarado, Ernesto; Amiro, Brian; De Jong, Bernardus; Goetz, Scott; Hoy, Elizabeth; Hyer, Edward; Keane, Robert; Law, B.E.; McKenzie, Donald; McNulty, Steven G.; Ottmar, Roger; Perez-Salicrup, Diego R.; Randerson, James; Robertson, Kevin M.; Turetsky, Merritt. 2011. Model comparisons for estimating carbon emissions from North American wildland fire. Journal of Geophysical Research.116: G00K05. doi:10.1029/2010JG001469. 21 p.
Keywordsfire, emissions, emission scenarios, carbon cycle, wildfire
- Controls on carbon consumption during Alaskan wildland fires
- Pyrogenic carbon emission from a large wildfire in Oregon, United States.
- North America's net terrestrial CO2 exchange with the atmosphere 1990-2009
XML: View XML