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Ancient fires help scientists understand current and future trends

Fire is a naturally occurring force in the landscape effecting nutrient cycling, hydrology, vegetation, and wildlife. Fire regimes - the frequency, size and intensity of fires - are the result of complex environmental interactions.  Changes in fire regimes have already been observed in the Western United States and have significant ecological and socioeconomic impacts. Scientists are working to better understand the interplay of human and climatic influences on fire regimes at different temporal and spatial scales.

A recently published article in Frontiers of Plant Science - Reconstruction of fire regimes through integrated paleoecological proxy data and ecological modeling  - reviews the use of sedimentary charcoal as a proxy for fire, identifies existing techniques for paleoecological modeling, and examines opportunities for coupling of paleoecological and ecological modeling approaches. The integration of paleoecology and ecological modeling will help scientists find the linkages between human activity, vegetation, and fire and will help to pinpoint the causes and consequences of past, present, and future fire activity.

This research is part of an NC CSC supported project designed to evaluate efficacy of climate model simulations, provide interpretation of climate change mechanisms, and advance understanding of the relationship between climate, ecosystems, and species of interest. For more information, please visit the following sites:

NC CSC Funded Project: Regional Extreme Climate Events: Gaining Understanding through Past and Present Observations and Modeling

Global Charcoal Database hosted by the Global Paleofire Working Group: www.gpwg.org

Photo curtousy of David Mark (Pixabay)