Wetter environment and increased grazing reduced the area burned in northern Eurasia from 2002 to 2016

Hao, Wei Min; Reeves, Matthew C.; Baggett, L. Scott; Balkanski, Yves; Ciais, Philippe; Nordgren, Bryce L.; Petkov, Alexander; Corley, Rachel E.; Mouillot, Florent; Urbanski, Shawn P.; Yue, Chao

Northern Eurasia is currently highly sensitive to climate change. Fires in this region can have significant impacts on regional air quality, radiative forcing and black carbon deposition in the Arctic which can accelerate ice melting. Using a MODIS-derived burned area dataset, we report that the total annual area burned in this region declined by 53 % during the 15-year period from 2002 to 2016. Grassland fires dominated this trend, accounting for 93 % of the decline in the total area burned. Grassland fires in Kazakhstan contributed 47 % of the total area burned and 84 % of the decline. A wetter climate and increased grazing are the principle driving forces for the decline. Our findings (1) highlight the importance of the complex interactions of climate–vegetation–land use in affecting fire activity and (2) reveal how the resulting impacts on fire activity in a relatively small region such as Kazakhstan can dominate the trends in burned areas across a much larger landscape of northern Eurasia.

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Hao, Wei Min / Reeves, Matthew C. / Baggett, L. Scott / et al: Wetter environment and increased grazing reduced the area burned in northern Eurasia from 2002 to 2016. 2021. Copernicus Publications.

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