New paper finds a long-term decrease in fire activity
A new paper published in Quaternary Research reconstructs fire activity in Israel and finds, “a long-term decline in fire activity over the past 3070 years, from high biomass burning ~ 3070–1750 years before the present to significantly lower levels after ~ 1750 years before the present. The paper corroborates several other peer-reviewed papers demonstrating a long-term decrease in fire activity and that current levels of fire activity are not unusual, unnatural, or unprecedented.
Fire activity is shown in graphs f and g, demonstrating a long-term decrease in fire activity over the past 3070 years. The Medieval Warming Period is labeled as “MCA” and Little Ice Age as “LIA”. Graph b is a proxy of temperature and precipitation, which was higher during the MCA, Roman, and Minoan Warming Periods. Horizontal axis is years before the present.
Climatic and human controls on the late Holocene fire history of northern Israel
Nadine B. Quintana Krupinskia, , ,
Jennifer R. Marlonb,
Joseph H. Streetd,
a Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA
b Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, New Haven, CT 06511, USA
c Yigal Allon Kinneret Limnological Laboratory, Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research, P.O. Box 345, Tiberias N/A 14102, Israel
d Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA 95064, USA
Long-term fire histories provide insight into the effects of climate, ecology and humans on fire activity; they can be generated using accumulation rates of charcoal and soot black carbon in lacustrine sediments. This study uses both charcoal and black carbon, and other paleoclimate indicators from Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), Israel, to reconstruct late Holocene variations in biomass burning and aridity. We compare the fire history data with a regional biomass-burning reconstruction from 18 different charcoal records and with pollen, climate, and population data to decipher the relative impacts of regional climate, vegetation changes, and human activity on fire. We show a long-term decline in fire activity over the past 3070 years, from high biomass burning ~ 3070–1750 cal yr BP [before the present] to significantly lower levels after ~ 1750 cal yr BP [before the present]. Human modification of the landscape (e.g., forest clearing, agriculture, settlement expansion and early industry) in periods of low to moderate precipitation appears to have been the greatest cause of high biomass burning during the late Holocene in southern Levant, while wetter climate apparently reduced fire activity during periods of both low and high human activity.
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