Document Detail

Wildfire responses to abrupt climate change in North America.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  19190185     Owner:  NLM     Status:  PubMed-not-MEDLINE    
It is widely accepted, based on data from the last few decades and on model simulations, that anthropogenic climate change will cause increased fire activity. However, less attention has been paid to the relationship between abrupt climate changes and heightened fire activity in the paleorecord. We use 35 charcoal and pollen records to assess how fire regimes in North America changed during the last glacial-interglacial transition (15 to 10 ka), a time of large and rapid climate changes. We also test the hypothesis that a comet impact initiated continental-scale wildfires at 12.9 ka; the data do not support this idea, nor are continent-wide fires indicated at any time during deglaciation. There are, however, clear links between large climate changes and fire activity. Biomass burning gradually increased from the glacial period to the beginning of the Younger Dryas. Although there are changes in biomass burning during the Younger Dryas, there is no systematic trend. There is a further increase in biomass burning after the Younger Dryas. Intervals of rapid climate change at 13.9, 13.2, and 11.7 ka are marked by large increases in fire activity. The timing of changes in fire is not coincident with changes in human population density or the timing of the extinction of the megafauna. Although these factors could have contributed to fire-regime changes at individual sites or at specific times, the charcoal data indicate an important role for climate, and particularly rapid climate change, in determining broad-scale levels of fire activity.
J R Marlon; P J Bartlein; M K Walsh; S P Harrison; K J Brown; M E Edwards; P E Higuera; M J Power; R S Anderson; C Briles; A Brunelle; C Carcaillet; M Daniels; F S Hu; M Lavoie; C Long; T Minckley; P J H Richard; A C Scott; D S Shafer; W Tinner; C E Umbanhowar; C Whitlock
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article     Date:  2009-02-03
Journal Detail:
Title:  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America     Volume:  106     ISSN:  1091-6490     ISO Abbreviation:  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A.     Publication Date:  2009 Feb 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2009-02-25     Completed Date:  2009-04-06     Revised Date:  2010-09-23    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7505876     Medline TA:  Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A     Country:  United States    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  2519-24     Citation Subset:  -    
Department of Geography, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403, USA.
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