Articles | Volume 11, issue 24
Biogeosciences, 11, 7305–7329, 2014
Biogeosciences, 11, 7305–7329, 2014

Research article 19 Dec 2014

Research article | 19 Dec 2014

Biomass burning fuel consumption rates: a field measurement database

T. T. van Leeuwen1,3, G. R. van der Werf1, A. A. Hoffmann2, R. G. Detmers1,3, G. Rücker4, N. H. F. French5, S. Archibald6,7, J. A. Carvalho Jr.8, G. D. Cook9, W. J. de Groot10, C. Hély11, E. S. Kasischke12, S. Kloster13, J. L. McCarty5, M. L. Pettinari14, P. Savadogo15, E. C. Alvarado16, L. Boschetti17, S. Manuri18, C. P. Meyer19, F. Siegert20, L. A. Trollope21, and W. S. W. Trollope21 T. T. van Leeuwen et al.
  • 1Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • 2Independent Expert for Integrated Fire and Natural Resource Management, Sinsheim, Germany
  • 3SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Utrecht, the Netherlands
  • 4ZEBRIS GbR, Munich, Germany
  • 5Michigan Tech Research Institute, Michigan Technological University, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  • 6Natural Resources and the Environment, Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Pretoria 0001, South Africa
  • 7School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg 2050, South Africa
  • 8Faculty of Engineering, São Paulo State University, Campus of Guaratinguetá, Guaratinguetá, Brazil
  • 9CSIRO Land and Water, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia
  • 10Natural Resources Canada-Canadian Forest Service, Sault Ste. Marie, Canada
  • 11Centre de Bio-Archéologie et d'Écologie (CBAE UMR 5059 CNRS/Université Montpellier 2/EPHE), Paléoenvironnements et Chronoécologie, Institut de Botanique, 163 rue Auguste Broussonnet, 34090 Montpellier, France
  • 12Department of Geographical Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742, USA
  • 13Land in the Earth System, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany
  • 14Environmental Remote Sensing Research Group, Department of Geology, Geography and Environment, Universidad de Alcalá, Alcalá de Henares, Spain
  • 15World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) c/o International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), West & Central Africa Region BP 12404, Niamey, Niger
  • 16School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98195, USA
  • 17College of Natural Resources, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho 83844, USA
  • 18Fenner School of Environment and Society, the Australian National University, Canberra, Australia
  • 19CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, Aspendale, Victoria, Australia
  • 20Biology Department II, GeoBio Center, Ludwig Maximilian University, Großhadener Str. 2, 82152 Planegg-Martinsried, Germany
  • 21Research & Development, Working On Fire International, Nelspruit, South Africa

Abstract. Landscape fires show large variability in the amount of biomass or fuel consumed per unit area burned. Fuel consumption (FC) depends on the biomass available to burn and the fraction of the biomass that is actually combusted, and can be combined with estimates of area burned to assess emissions. While burned area can be detected from space and estimates are becoming more reliable due to improved algorithms and sensors, FC is usually modeled or taken selectively from the literature. We compiled the peer-reviewed literature on FC for various biomes and fuel categories to understand FC and its variability better, and to provide a database that can be used to constrain biogeochemical models with fire modules. We compiled in total 77 studies covering 11 biomes including savanna (15 studies, average FC of 4.6 t DM (dry matter) ha−1 with a standard deviation of 2.2), tropical forest (n = 19, FC = 126 ± 77), temperate forest (n = 12, FC = 58 ± 72), boreal forest (n = 16, FC = 35 ± 24), pasture (n = 4, FC = 28 ± 9.3), shifting cultivation (n = 2, FC = 23, with a range of 4.0–43), crop residue (n = 4, FC = 6.5 ± 9.0), chaparral (n = 3, FC = 27 ± 19), tropical peatland (n = 4, FC = 314 ± 196), boreal peatland (n = 2, FC = 42 [42–43]), and tundra (n = 1, FC = 40). Within biomes the regional variability in the number of measurements was sometimes large, with e.g. only three measurement locations in boreal Russia and 35 sites in North America. Substantial regional differences in FC were found within the defined biomes: for example, FC of temperate pine forests in the USA was 37% lower than Australian forests dominated by eucalypt trees. Besides showing the differences between biomes, FC estimates were also grouped into different fuel classes. Our results highlight the large variability in FC, not only between biomes but also within biomes and fuel classes. This implies that substantial uncertainties are associated with using biome-averaged values to represent FC for whole biomes. Comparing the compiled FC values with co-located Global Fire Emissions Database version 3 (GFED3) FC indicates that modeling studies that aim to represent variability in FC also within biomes, still require improvements as they have difficulty in representing the dynamics governing FC.

Final-revised paper