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Journal Article

Characterization of land cover-specific fire regimes in the Brazilian Amazon


Cano-Crespo,  Ana
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Traxl,  Dominik
External Organizations;

Prat-Ortega,  Genís
External Organizations;


Rolinski,  Susanne
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Thonicke,  Kirsten
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Cano-Crespo, A., Traxl, D., Prat-Ortega, G., Rolinski, S., Thonicke, K. (2023): Characterization of land cover-specific fire regimes in the Brazilian Amazon. - Regional Environmental Change, 23, 19.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_27636
Humans profoundly alter fire regimes both directly, by introducing changes in fuel dynamics and ignitions, and indirectly by increasing the release of greenhouse gases and aerosols from fires, which can alter regional climate and, as a consequence, modify fuel moisture and availability. Interactions between vegetation dynamics, regional climate change, and anthropogenic pressure lead to high heterogeneity in the spatio-temporal fire distribution. We use the new FireTracks Scientific Dataset that tracks the spatio-temporal development of individual fires to analyse fire regimes in the Brazilian Legal Amazon over the period 2002-2020. We analyse fire size, duration, intensity, and rate of spread in six different land-cover classes. Particular combinations of fire features determine the dominant and characteristic fire regime in each of them. We find that fires in savannas and evergreen forests burn the largest areas and are the most long-lasting. Forest fires have the potential for burning at the highest intensities, whereas higher rates of spread are found in savannas. Woody savanna and grassland fires are usually affected by smaller, shorter, less-intense fires compared with fires in evergreen forest and savanna. However, fires in grasslands can burn at rates of spread as high as savanna fires as a result of the easily flammable fuel. We observe that fires in deciduous forests and croplands are generally small, short, and low-intense, although the latter can sustain high rates of spread due to the dry post-harvest residuals. The reconstructed fire regimes for each land cover can be used to improve the simulated fire characteristics by models, and thus, future projections.