Reconstructing burnt area during the Holocene: an Iberian case study
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Shen, Y... [et al.]. Reconstructing burnt area during the Holocene: an Iberian case study, Clim. Past, 18, 1189–1201, [https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-18-1189-2022], 2022.
SponsorshipEuropean Research Council (ERC) European Commission 694481 787203; Imperial College through the Lee Family Scholarship; Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, Environment and Society RC-2018-023 REDISCO HAR2017-88035-P
Charcoal accumulated in lake, bog or other anoxic sediments through time has been used to document the geographical patterns in changes in fire regimes. Such reconstructions are useful to explore the impact of climate and vegetation changes on fire during periods when human influence was less prevalent than today. However, charcoal records only provide semi-quantitative estimates of change in biomass burning. Here we derive quantitative estimates of burnt area from vegetation data in two stages. First, we relate the modern charcoal abundance to burnt area using a conversion factor derived from a generalised linear model of burnt area probability based on eight environmental predictors. Then, we establish the relationship between fossil pollen assemblages and burnt area using tolerance-weighted weighted averaging partial least-squares regression with a sampling frequency correction (fxTWA-PLS). We test this approach using the Iberian Peninsula as a case study because it is a fire-prone region with abundant pollen and charcoal records covering the Holocene. We derive the vegetation-burnt area relationship using the 31 records that have both modern and fossil charcoal and pollen data and then reconstruct palaeoburnt area for the 113 records with Holocene pollen records. The pollen data predict charcoal-derived burnt area relatively well (R-2 = 0.44), and the changes in reconstructed burnt area are synchronous with known climate changes through the Holocene. This new method opens up the possibility of reconstructing changes in fire regimes quantitatively from pollen records, after regional calibration of the vegetation-burnt area relationship, in regions where pollen records are more abundant than charcoal records.