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Reconstructing fire history in central Mongolia from tree-rings

Hessl, Amy E.; Ariya, Uyanga; Brown, Peter; Byambasuren, Oyunsannaa; Green, Tim; Jacoby, Gordon; Sutherland, Elaine Kennedy; Nachin, Baatarbileg; Maxwell, R. Stockton; Pederson, Neil; De Grandpre, Louis; Saladyga, Thomas; Tardif, Jacques C. 2012. Reconstructing fire history in central Mongolia from tree-rings. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 21(1): 86-92.

doi: 10.1071/WF10108.

Rising temperatures are expected to increase wildfire activity in many regions of the world. Over the last 60 years in Mongolia, mean annual temperatures have increased ~2°C and the recorded frequency and spatial extent of forest and steppe fires have increased. Few long records of fire history exist to place these recent changes in a historical perspective. The purpose of this paper is to report on fire history research from three sites in central Mongolia and to highlight the potential of this region as a test case for understanding the relationships between climate change, fire and land use. We collected partial cross-sections from fire-scarred trees and stumps at each site using a targeted sampling approach. All three sites had long histories of fire ranging from 280 to 450 years. Mean Weibull fire return intervals varied from 7 to 16 years. Fire scars at one protected-area site were nearly absent after 1760, likely owing to changes in land use. There is limited synchrony in fire occurrence across sites, suggesting that fire occurrence, at least at annual time scales, might be influenced by local processes (grazing, human ignitions, other land-use factors) as well as regional processes like climate. Additional data are being collected to further test hypotheses regarding climate change, land use and fire.

Keywords: climate change, forest-steppe, land use

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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Reconstructing fire history in central Mongolia from tree-rings
Electronic Publish Date: March 21, 2012
Last Update:
March 21, 2012

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