Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Karin L. Riley; A. Park Williams; Shawn P. UrbanskiDavid E. CalkinKaren C. ShortChristopher D. O’Connor
    Date: 2019
    Source: Current Pollution Reports. 5(2): 9-24.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (11.0 MB)


    The extent of the Earth's surface burned annually by fires is affected by a number of drivers, including but not limited to climate. Other important drivers include the amount and type of vegetation (fuel) available and human impacts, including fire suppression, ignition, and conversion of burnable land to crops. Prior to the evolution of hominids, area burned was dictated by climate via direct influences on vegetation, aridity, and lightning. In the future, warming will be accompanied by changes in distribution, frequency, intensity, and timing of precipitation that may promote or suppress fire activity depending on location. Where area burned increases, fire may become self-regulating by reducing fuel availability. The effects of climate change on fire regimes will be strongly modulated by humans in many areas. Here, we use a systems approach to outline major drivers of changes in area burned. Due to the array of interacting drivers working in concert with climate's influence on burned area, and uncertainty in the direction and magnitude of changes in these drivers, there is very high uncertainty for much of the globe regarding how fire activity and accompanying smoke emissions will change in the coming decades.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • 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.


    Riley, Karin L.; Williams, A. Park; Urbanski, Shawn P.; Calkin, David E.; Short, Karen C.; O’Connor, Christopher D. 2019. Will landscape fire increase in the future? A systems approach to climate, fire, fuel, and human drivers. Current Pollution Reports. 5(2): 9-24.


    Google Scholar


    area burned, climate change, fire activity, emissions, systems approach

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page