IBBI convened the session BG2.3 "Fire in the Earth System" and its 2nd Workshop during the EGU General Assembly in April 2013 in Vienna, Austria. Following the conference session, there were lively discussions at the workshop:
Biomass burning (BB) changes the land surface and emits large quantities of trace gases and aerosol to the atmosphere that influence atmospheric chemistry, radiative processes and cloud formation. Under a warming climate, it is likely that fire frequency and severity will increase. Under the IGBP-IGAC umbrella a series of international and interdisciplinary research campaigns on BB in tropical, subtropical and boreal biomes conducted during the 1990s formed the basis of our understanding of role of emissions from fires on global atmospheric chemistry. However, the large-scale international and global collaborative effort has been replaced by numerous smaller-scale projects and campaigns in recent times. The aim of the IGAC\iLEAPS\WMO Interdisciplinary Biomass Burning Initiative (IBBI) is to coordinate and facilitate research on all aspects of biomass burning in order to better quantify the impact of biomass burning (including feedbacks) on the Earth System.
The second in a series of IBBI workshops was held in Vienna during EGU. The report from the first IBBI Workshop held in Geneva in July 2012 was presented in IGAC Newsletter Issue 47 and the third workshop is planned for 23-25 April 2014 at the Schloss Ringwood in Germany.
The Vienna workshop was attended by 34 participants from 14 countries. The aim of the workshop was to define the activities of the IBBI by developing the structure of a paper on new directions in biomass burning research. The paper will be finalised at the 2014 Workshop where the Scientific Steering Committee for the Initiative will also be elected.
Five dominant themes emerged from the Vienna workshop discussions. The first was around fire products. In particular the evaluation of fire products and their uncertainties is an important issue. Researchers and operational institutions increasingly use the relatively new fire radiative power (FRP) satellite observations (Figure 1). So, how can we quantify and reduce the uncertainties associated with an FRP-based description of fires and fire emissions? Also, how can FRP be linked to burnt area? In addition, other products are required including vegetation types and fire ecology.
The second theme was around fire models and fires within models, which are complex due to the scale hierarchy of models (from process such as fire spread to fires in global climate/earth system simulator) and the range of different end-users. There is not a one-size-fits all system available (and nor is one likely to be), however there is clearly a large and diverse effort going into developing these ranges of models. How can the international community direct this effort in such a way that different disciplines benefit from others experience and knowledge?
The third theme was around the observations of fires and atmospheric composition. The aging of smoke may be a factor in the under prediction of AOD in climate models relative to satellite AOD observations. Observational programs that target smoke aging may provide insights into whether a change in aerosol size or chemical composition may contribute to this under prediction if such processes are not adequately captured in these models. Emission factors continue to be a significant source of uncertainty as these vary in space and time but are fundamental to understanding the impact of fires on atmospheric composition and atmospheric chemistry.
The role of BB on influencing air quality was the fourth theme of interest. In the first instance how well do we understand the contribution of biomass burning to regional air quality and atmospheric composition and can we separate the BB contribution from other sources. Again the issue of scales is important, in particular high temporal resolution and complex chemical transport mechanisms are required for air quality modeling with small fires most likely being important. However can we capture these?
One of the most complex and uncertain areas of science of biomass burning (and the fifth theme discussed) is the link between fires and climate change and fire climate feedbacks. Fires have been part of the earth system for a very long time, so how can we learn from paleo records to improve our understanding of these feedbacks ?
An issue that crossed all of these themes was around the human dimension. In particular, humans play a significant role in fires, either deliberately or accidentally. How do we include human activities in our models? To do so will require understanding of physical processes (ignition, suppression, land use), and economic and social policy and will require the inclusion of social scientists in the IBBI.
Finally, ideas for fostering future collaborations were discussed including the new directions paper, establishment of a web-based information portal (with links to relevant sites concerning data, models and upcoming activities). We also discussed establishing a Global Fire Alert web page and potential sources of funding to support IBBI activities.
Selected Presentations and Posters from EGU Session BG2.3 - Coming Soon
List of Participants
|Uni Sao Paulo
|UK Met Office
|PUC, Rio Brazil
|Uni. Toulouse, CNRS
|Finnish Met Inst.
|Uni California, Berkeley
|Uni Helsinki Finnish Met office
|VN Sukachev Inst of Forest
|Mohd Talib Latif
|ECPL, Uni Crete
|Manuela van Pinxteren
|TROPOS, Leipzig Germany
|IISSER Mohali, India
|Inst of Forest, Russia
|EC-JRC Ispra IES
|Nat Uni of Singapore
|Uni of Leeds