13 Sep 2023
 | 13 Sep 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal BG.

Representing socio-economic factors in the INFERNO global fire model using the Human Development Index

Joao Carlos Martins Teixeira, Chantelle Burton, Douglas I. Kelly, Gerd A. Folberth, Fiona M. O'Connor, Richard A. Betts, and Apostolos Voulgarakis

Abstract. Humans can act as fire starters or suppressors, changing fire regimes by increasing the number of ignitions, changing their timing, and altering fuel structure and abundance, which can be considered a human–environmental coupling. Considering the human influences on fire activity, representing socio-economic impacts on fires in global fire models is crucial to underpin the confidence in these modelling frameworks. In this work we implement a socio-economic factor in the fire ignition and suppression parametrisation in INFERNO based on a Human Development Index (HDI). HDI captures human development's income, health, and education dimensions leading to a representation where if there is more effort to improve human development, the population also invests in higher fire suppression. Including this representation of socio-economic factors in INFERNO reduces the annual mean burnt area (between 1997–2016) positive biases found in Temperate North America, Central America, Europe and Southern Hemisphere South America, by more than 100 % without statistically significant impact to other areas. In addition, it improves the representation of the burnt area trends, especially in Africa. Central Asia and Australia where observations show negative trends. Including socio-economic impacts on fire based on HDI in INFERNO provides a simple and linear representation of these effects on fire ignition and suppression, leading to an improvement of the model performance, especially in developed regions, These impacts are especially relevant to understand future climate regimes and inform policymakers on effects of fire policy in a changing climate.

Joao Carlos Martins Teixeira et al.

Status: open (until 25 Oct 2023)

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Joao Carlos Martins Teixeira et al.

Joao Carlos Martins Teixeira et al.


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Short summary
Representing socio-economic impacts on fires is crucial to underpin the confidence in global fire models. Introducing these into INFERNO, reduces biases and improves the modelled burnt area (BA) trends when compared to observations. Including socio-economic factors in the representation of fires in Earth System Models is important for realistically simulating BA, quantifying trends in the recent past, and for understanding the main drivers of those at regional scales.