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Geoscientific Model Development An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-2019-261
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-2019-261
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: model evaluation paper 08 Jan 2020

Submitted as: model evaluation paper | 08 Jan 2020

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A revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal GMD and is expected to appear here in due course.

Quantitative assessment of fire and vegetation properties in historical simulations with fire-enabled vegetation models from the Fire Model Intercomparison Project

Stijn Hantson1,2, Douglas I. Kelley3, Almut Arneth1, Sandy P. Harrison4, Sally Archibald5, Dominique Bachelet6, Matthew Forrest7, Thomas Hickler7,8, Gitta Lasslop7, Fang Li9, Stephane Mangeon10,a, Joe R. Melton11, Lars Nieradzik12, Sam S. Rabin1, I. Colin Prentice13, Tim Sheehan6, Stephen Sitch14, Lina Teckentrup15,16, Apostolos Voulgarakis10, and Chao Yue17 Stijn Hantson et al.
  • 1Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Institute of Meteorology and Climate research, Atmospheric Environmental Research, Garmisch‐Partenkirchen, Germany
  • 2Geospatial Data Solutions Center, University of California Irvine, CA 92697 Irvine, USA
  • 3Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford OX10 8BB, UK
  • 4School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Sciences, University of Reading, Reading, UK
  • 5Centre for African Ecology, School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag X3, WITS, Johannesburg, 2050, South Africa
  • 6Biological and Ecological Engineering, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA
  • 7Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Institute (BiK-F), Senckenberganlage 25, 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • 8Institute of Physical Geography, Goethe-University, Altenhöferallee 1, 60438 Frankfurt am Main, Germany
  • 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
  • 11Climate Research Division, Environment and Climate Change Canada, Victoria, BC V8W 2Y2, Canada
  • 12Institute for Physical Geography and Ecosystem Sciences, Lund University, 22362 Lund, Sweden
  • 13AXA 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
  • 14College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Exeter EX4 4RJ, UK
  • 15ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Extremes, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  • 16Climate Change Research Center, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
  • 17Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, LSCE/IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQ, UniversitéParis-Saclay, 91198 Gif-sur-Yvette, France
  • anow at: Data 61, CSIRO, Brisbane, Australia

Abstract. Global fire-vegetation models are widely used to assess impacts of environmental change on fire regimes and the carbon cycle, and to infer relationships between climate, land use, and fire. However, differences in model structure and parameterizations, in both the vegetation and fire components of these models, could influence overall model performance, and to date there has been limited evaluation of how well different models represent various aspects of fire regimes. The Fire Model Intercomparison Project (FireMIP) is coordinating the evaluation of state-of-the-art global fire models, with the aim of improving projections of fire regime characteristic and fire impacts on ecosystems and human societies under the context of global environmental change. Here we perform a systematic evaluation of historical simulations made by nine FireMIP models in order to quantify their ability to reproduce a range of fire and vegetation benchmarks. The FireMIP models simulate a wide range in global annual total burnt area (39–536 Mha), and global annual fire carbon emission (0.91–4.75 Pg C a−1) for modern conditions (2002–2012), but most of the range in burnt area is within observational uncertainty (345–468 Mha). Benchmarking scores indicate that seven out of nine FireMIP models are able to represent the spatial pattern in burnt area. The models also reproduce the seasonality in burnt area reasonably well but struggle to simulate fire season length and are largely unable to represent inter-annual variations in burnt area. However, models that represent cropland fires see improved simulation of fire seasonality in the northern hemisphere. The three FireMIP models which explicitly simulate individual fires are able to reproduce the spatial pattern in number of fires, but fire sizes are too small in key regions and this results in an underestimation of burnt area. The correct representation of spatial and seasonal patterns in vegetation appears to correlate with a better representation of burnt area. While some FireMIP models are better at representing certain aspects of the fire regime, no model clearly outperforms all other models across the full range of variables assessed.

Stijn Hantson et al.

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Stijn Hantson et al.

Stijn Hantson et al.

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Short summary
Global fire-vegetation models are widely used, but there has been limited evaluation of how well they represent various aspects of fire regimes. Here we perform a systematic evaluation of simulations made by nine FireMIP models in order to quantify their ability to reproduce a range of fire and vegetation benchmarks. While some FireMIP models are better at representing certain aspects of the fire regime, no model clearly outperforms all other models across the full range of variables assessed.
Global fire-vegetation models are widely used, but there has been limited evaluation of how well...
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