Articles | Volume 10, issue 3
Geosci. Model Dev., 10, 1175–1197, 2017
Geosci. Model Dev., 10, 1175–1197, 2017

Model experiment description paper 17 Mar 2017

Model experiment description paper | 17 Mar 2017

The Fire Modeling Intercomparison Project (FireMIP), phase 1: experimental and analytical protocols with detailed model descriptions

Sam S. Rabin1,2, Joe R. Melton3, Gitta Lasslop4, Dominique Bachelet5,6, Matthew Forrest7, Stijn Hantson2, Jed O. Kaplan8, Fang Li9, Stéphane Mangeon10, Daniel S. Ward11, Chao Yue12, Vivek K. Arora13, Thomas Hickler7,14, Silvia Kloster4, Wolfgang Knorr15, Lars Nieradzik16,17, Allan Spessa18, Gerd A. Folberth19, Tim Sheehan6, Apostolos Voulgarakis10, Douglas I. Kelley20, I. Colin Prentice21,22, Stephen Sitch23, Sandy Harrison24, and Almut Arneth2 Sam S. Rabin et al.
  • 1Dept. of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
  • 2Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research/Atmospheric Environmental Research, 82467 Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
  • 3Climate Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Victoria, BC, V8W 2Y2, Canada
  • 4Land in the Earth System, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Bundesstrasse 53, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
  • 5Biological and Ecological Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
  • 6Conservation Biology Institute, 136 SW Washington Ave., Suite 202, Corvallis, OR 97333, USA
  • 7Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Institute (BiK-F), Senckenberganlage 25, 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • 8Institute of Earth Surface Dynamics, University of Lausanne, 4414 Géopolis Building, 1015 Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 9International Center for Climate and Environmental Sciences, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
  • 10Department of Physics, Imperial College London, London, UK
  • 11Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, USA
  • 12Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l'Environnement, LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, Université Paris-Saclay, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • 13Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling and Analysis, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Victoria, BC, V8W 2Y2, Canada
  • 14Department of Physical Geography, Goethe-University, Altenhöferallee 1, 60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • 15Department of Physical Geography and Ecosystem Science, Lund University, 22362 Lund, Sweden
  • 16Centre for Environmental and Climate Research, Lund University, 22362 Lund, Sweden
  • 17CSIRO Oceans and Atmosphere, P.O. Box 3023, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
  • 18School of Environment, Earth and Ecosystem Sciences, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
  • 19UK Met Office Hadley Centre, Exeter, UK
  • 20Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Maclean building, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxfordshire, OX10 8BB, UK
  • 21School of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, North Ryde, NSW 2109, Australia
  • 22AXA Chair of Biosphere and Climate Impacts, Grand Challenges in Ecosystem and the Environment, Department of Life Sciences and Grantham Institute – Climate Change and the Environment, Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Buckhurst Road, Ascot SL5 7PY, UK
  • 23College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4RJ, UK
  • 24School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Sciences (SAGES), University of Reading, Reading, UK

Abstract. The important role of fire in regulating vegetation community composition and contributions to emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols make it a critical component of dynamic global vegetation models and Earth system models. Over 2 decades of development, a wide variety of model structures and mechanisms have been designed and incorporated into global fire models, which have been linked to different vegetation models. However, there has not yet been a systematic examination of how these different strategies contribute to model performance. Here we describe the structure of the first phase of the Fire Model Intercomparison Project (FireMIP), which for the first time seeks to systematically compare a number of models. By combining a standardized set of input data and model experiments with a rigorous comparison of model outputs to each other and to observations, we will improve the understanding of what drives vegetation fire, how it can best be simulated, and what new or improved observational data could allow better constraints on model behavior. In this paper, we introduce the fire models used in the first phase of FireMIP, the simulation protocols applied, and the benchmarking system used to evaluate the models. We have also created supplementary tables that describe, in thorough mathematical detail, the structure of each model.

Short summary
Global vegetation models are important tools for understanding how the Earth system will change in the future, and fire is a critical process to include. A number of different methods have been developed to represent vegetation burning. This paper describes the protocol for the first systematic comparison of global fire models, which will allow the community to explore various drivers and evaluate what mechanisms are important for improving performance. It also includes equations for all models.