Wildfires each year affect an estimated 4% of the global vegetated area. Fire-prone ecosystems are found across the world and climate change is expected to increase the risk of wildfires due to elevated temperatures and changes in the water cycle. Human society and economy are greatly impacted by fire due to the loss of lives and the destruction of livelihoods and critical infrastructure.
Earth observation provides an important tool for characterizing the impact of wildfires on society and ecosystems by providing spatial information on burned area and burn severity, on the one hand, and on environmental factors influencing fire hazard, such as fuel parameters (moisture, structure), land use/land cover, topography etc., on the other hand.
The CLIMERS research group is interested in quantifying the controls of climate, vegetation and human activity on wildfire occurrence and burned area. We aim at estimating fuel moisture using satellite datasets on soil moisture (e.g. CCI) and vegetation (e.g. VOD) and apply data-driven modelling methods to test for relations between these and other predictors and fire activity both at the global and regional scales.

Key publications:

  • Forkel, M., Dorigo, W., Lasslop, G., Teubner, I., Chuvieco, E., Thonicke, K., 2017. A data-driven approach to identify controls on global fire activity from satellite and climate observations (SOFIA V1). Geosci. Model Dev. 10, 4443–4476. https://doi.org/10.5194/gmd-10-4443-2017
  • Forkel, M., Andela, N., P Harrison, S., Lasslop, G., Van Marle, M., Chuvieco, E., Dorigo, W., Forrest, M., Hantson, S., Heil, A., Li, F., Melton, J., Sitch, S., Yue, C., Arneth, A., 2019. Emergent relationships with respect to burned area in global satellite observations and fire-enabled vegetation models. Biogeosciences 16, 57–76. https://doi.org/10.5194/bg-16-57-2019