Submitted as: model description paper
30 May 2022
Submitted as: model description paper | 30 May 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal GMD.

Global biomass burning fuel consumption and emissions at 500-m spatial resolution based on the Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED)

Dave van Wees1, Guido R. van der Werf1, James T. Randerson2, Brendan M. Rogers3, Yang Chen2, Sander Veraverbeke1, Louis Giglio4, and Douglas C. Morton5 Dave van Wees et al.
  • 1Department of Earth Sciences, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, 1081 HV, The Netherlands
  • 2Department of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA
  • 3Woodwell Climate Research Center, Falmouth, MA 02540, USA
  • 4Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA
  • 5Biospheric Sciences Laboratory, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA

Abstract. In fire emission models, the spatial resolution of both the modelling framework and the satellite data used to quantify burned area can have considerable impact on emission estimates. Consideration of this sensitivity is especially important in areas with heterogeneous land cover and fire regimes, and when constraining model output with field measurements. We developed a global fire emissions model with a spatial resolution of 500 m using MODerate resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data. To accommodate this spatial resolution, our model is based on a simplified version of the Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED) modelling framework. Tree mortality as a result of fire, i.e. fire-related forest loss, was modelled based on the overlap between 30-m forest loss data and MODIS burned area and active fire detections. Using this new 500-m model, we calculated global average carbon emissions from fire of 2.1 ± 0.2 (±1σ interannual variability; IAV) Pg C yr–1 during 2002–2019. Fire-related forest loss accounted for 2.5 ± 0.9 % (uncertainty range = 1.9–3.2 %) of global burned area and 25 ± 6 % (uncertainty range = 18–32 %) of emissions, indicating that fuel consumption in forest fires is an order of magnitude higher than the global average. Emissions from the combustion of soil organic carbon in the boreal region and tropical peatlands accounted for 14 ± 4 % of global emissions. Our global fire emissions estimate was higher than the 1.5 Pg C yr–1 from GFED4 and similar to 2.1 Pg C yr–1 from GFED4s. Even though GFED4s included more burned area by accounting for small fires undetected by the MODIS burned area mapping algorithm, our emissions were similar to GFED4s due to higher average fuel consumption. The global difference in fuel consumption could mainly be explained by higher SOC emissions from the boreal region as constrained by additional measurements. The higher resolution of the 500-m model also contributed to the difference by improving the simulation of landscape heterogeneity and reducing the scale mismatch in comparing field measurements to model grid cell averages during model calibration. Furthermore, the fire-related forest loss algorithm introduced in our model led to more accurate and widespread estimation of high-fuel consumption burned area. Recent advances in burned area detection at resolutions of 30 m and finer show a substantial amount of burned area that remains undetected with 500-m sensors, suggesting that global carbon emissions from fire are likely higher than our 500-m estimates. The ability to model fire emissions at 500-m resolution provides a framework for further improvements with the development of new satellite-based estimates of fuels, burned area, and fire behaviour, for use in the next generation of GFED.

Dave van Wees et al.

Status: open (until 15 Oct 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CEC1: 'Comment on gmd-2022-132', Juan Antonio Añel, 16 Jun 2022 reply
    • AC1: 'Reply on CEC1', Dave van Wees, 22 Jun 2022 reply
  • RC1: 'Comment on gmd-2022-132', Anonymous Referee #1, 01 Sep 2022 reply

Dave van Wees et al.

Dave van Wees et al.


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Short summary
We present a global fire emission model based on the GFED model framework with a spatial resolution of 500-m resolution. The higher resolution allowed for a more detailed representation of spatial heterogeneity in fuels and emissions. Specific modules were developed to model emissions from fire-related forest loss and belowground burning. Results form the 500-m model were compared to GFED4s, showing that global emissions were relatively similar but spatial differences were substantial.