The researchers analyzed the variation in wildfires in response to the abrupt climate change that took place between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago. The results provide valuable information about possible trends in wildfires in the future. These findings have been published on line in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) dated 3 February 2009.
The authors of the article studied the period from 15,000 to 10,000 years ago which was characterized by very large scale environmental change, similar to that which is emerging today. They reconstructed the history of wildfires between 15,000 and 10,000 BP (1) from sedimentary charcoal records. By studying fossil pollen, they were able to show that there was a major increase in plant biomass during the warming of the climate that took place from the end of the Younger Dryas (a period of cooling lasting from around 12,900 to 11,700 years ago). They were able to establish clear links between these two sets of data.
Biomass burning gradually increased until the beginning of the Younger Dryas. Although there are records of variation in fire activity between 12,900 and 11,700 BP, there is no evidence for any systematic trend at that time. However, there was a rapid increase in wildfires after the end of the Younger Dryas around 11,700 BP, in other words right at the beginning of the warm climate period known as the Holocene in which we are currently still living. The timing of changes in frequency of fires is neither coincident with emerging population change in human societies, nor with the timing of the extinction of herbivorous megafauna in North America, and even less so with a hypothetical meteorite bombardment, three factors which could have had an effect on the outbreak and spread of fires on a large scale.
The conclusions of the study emphasize the major environmental role played by climate change during a period of accelerated warming in determining broad-scale fire activity.
This study is a logical sequel to another study published in Nature Geoscience in October 2008 (2) which showed that the climate was a natural planet-wide driving force of the fire regime through the centuries that preceded the Industrial revolution.
This research implies that ongoing global warming, which is especially noticeable at temperate and northern latitudes, as well as the forest expansion resulting from major agricultural abandonment in industrialized areas, could promote the spread of climate-driven fires and lead to new societal and environmental risks.
(1) BP: years before present
(2) Marlon J.R., Bartlein P.J., Carcaillet C., Gavin D.G., Harrison S.P., Higuera P.E., Joos F., Power M.J. & Prentice I.C. (2008) Climate and human influences on global biomass burning over the past two millennia. Nature Geoscience 1, 697 - 702 (2008), doi :10.1038/ngeo313
Julien Guillaume | alfa
Further reports about: > Biomass burning > Climate change > Geoscience > Nature Immunology > Wildfires > Younger Dryas > agricultural abandonment > climate-driven fires > environmental risk > environmental risks > fire activity > fossil pollen > herbivorous megafauna > human influence > hypothetical meteorite bombardment
International network connects experimental research in European waters
21.03.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
World Water Day 2017: It doesn’t Always Have to Be Drinking Water – Using Wastewater as a Resource
17.03.2017 | ISOE - Institut für sozial-ökologische Forschung
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
24.03.2017 | Materials Sciences
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy