Global fire activity patterns (1996–2006) and climatic influence: an analysis using the World Fire Atlas Y. Le Page1, J. M. C. Pereira1, R. Trigo2, C. da Camara2, D. Oom3, and B. Mota1 1Technical University of Lisbon, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Department of Forestry, Tapada da Ajuda 1349-017 Lisboa, Portugal 2Lisbon University, Geophysical Center, Department of Physics, Campo Grande, Ed C8, Piso 6, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal 3Tropical Research Institute, Remote Sensing Centre, Tv. Conde da Ribeira 9, 1300-142 Lisboa, Portugal
Abstract. Vegetation fires have been acknowledged as an environmental process of
global scale, which affects the chemical composition of the troposphere, and
has profound ecological and climatic impacts. However, considerable
uncertainty remains, especially concerning intra and inter-annual
variability of fire incidence. The main goals of our global-scale study were
to characterise spatial-temporal patterns of fire activity, to identify
broad geographical areas with similar vegetation fire dynamics, and to
analyse the relationship between fire activity and the El Niño-Southern
Oscillation. This study relies on 10 years (mid 1996–mid 2006) of
screened European Space Agency World Fire Atlas (WFA) data, obtained from
Along Track Scanning Radiometer (ATSR) and Advanced ATSR (AATSR) imagery.
Empirical Orthogonal Function analysis was used to reduce the dimensionality
of the dataset. Regions of homogeneous fire dynamics were identified with
cluster analysis, and interpreted based on their eco-climatic
characteristics. The impact of 1997–1998 El Niño is clearly dominant over
the study period, causing increased fire activity in a variety of regions
and ecosystems, with variable timing. Overall, this study provides the first
global decadal assessment of spatial-temporal fire variability and confirms
the usefulness of the screened WFA for global fire ecoclimatology research.
Citation: Le Page, Y., Pereira, J. M. C., Trigo, R., da Camara, C., Oom, D., and Mota, B.: Global fire activity patterns (1996–2006) and climatic influence: an analysis using the World Fire Atlas, Atmos. Chem. Phys., 8, 1911-1924, doi:10.5194/acp-8-1911-2008, 2008.