Separating agricultural and non-agricultural fire seasonality at regional scales

Figure 3 from Magi et al. (2012): Agricultural (green) and non-agricultural (purple) fire seasonality derived from GFED for each analysis region.


The timing and length of burning seasons in different parts of the world depend on climate, land-cover characteristics, and human activities. In this study, global burned area estimates are used in conjunction with global gridded distributions of agricultural land-cover types (defined as the sum of cropland and pasture area) to separate the seasonality of agricultural burning practices from that of non-agricultural fire.

The results presented in this study show that agricultural and non-agricultural land experience broadly different fire seasonality patterns that are not always linked to climate conditions. We highlight these differences on a regional basis, examining variations in both agricultural land cover and associated cultural practices to help explain our results. While we discuss two land-cover categories, the methods can be generalized to derive seasonality for any number of land uses or cover types. This will be useful as global fire models evolve to be fully interactive with land-use and land-cover change in the next generation of Earth system models.