Analysis fire patterns and drivers with a global SEVER-FIRE v1.0 model incorporated into dynamic global vegetation model and satellite and on-ground observations
Biomass burning is an important environmental process with a strong influence on vegetation and on the atmospheric composition. It competes with microbes and herbivores to convert biomass to CO2 and it is a major contributor of gases and aerosols to the atmosphere. To better understand and predict global fire occurrence, fire models have been developed and coupled to dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs) and Earth system models (ESMs). We present SEVER-FIRE v1.0 (Socio-Economic and natural Vegetation ExpeRimental global fire model version 1.0), which is incorporated into the SEVER DGVM. One of the major focuses of SEVER-FIRE is an implementation of pyrogenic behavior of humans (timing of their activities and their willingness and necessity to ignite or suppress fire), related to socioeconomic and demographic conditions in a geographical domain of the model application. Burned areas and emissions from the SEVER model are compared to the Global Fire Emission Database version 2 (GFED), derived from satellite observations, while number of fires is compared with regional historical fire statistics. We focus on both the model output accuracy and its assumptions regarding fire drivers and perform (1) an evaluation of the predicted spatial and temporal patterns, focusing on fire incidence, seasonality and interannual variability; (2) analysis to evaluate the assumptions concerning the etiology, or causation, of fire, including climatic and anthropogenic drivers, as well as the type and amount of vegetation. SEVER reproduces the main features of climate-driven interannual fire variability at a regional scale, for example the large fires associated with the 1997–1998 El Niño event in Indonesia and Central and South America, which had critical ecological and atmospheric impacts. Spatial and seasonal patterns of fire incidence reveal some model inaccuracies, and we discuss the implications of the distribution of vegetation types inferred by the DGVM and of assumed proxies of human fire practices. We further suggest possible development directions to enable such models to better project future fire activity.