Influence of Fire on the Carbon Cycle and Climate

  • Gitta LasslopEmail author
  • Alysha I. Coppola
  • Apostolos Voulgarakis
  • Chao Yue
  • Sander Veraverbeke
Carbon Cycle and Climate (K Zickfeld, JR Melton and N Lovenduski)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Carbon Cycle and Climate


Purpose of Review

Understanding of how fire affects the carbon cycle and climate is crucial for climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies. As those are often based on Earth system model simulations, we identify recent progress and research needs that can improve the model representation of fire and its impacts.

Recent Findings

New constraints of fire effects on the carbon cycle and climate are provided by the quantification of the carbon ages and effects of vegetation types and traits. For global scale modelling, the low understanding of the human–fire relationship is limiting.


Recent developments allow improvements in Earth system models with respect to the influences of vegetation on climate, peatland burning and the pyrogenic carbon cycle. Better understanding of human influences is required. Given the impacts of fire on carbon storage and climate, thorough understanding of the effects of fire in the Earth system is crucial to support climate change mitigation and adaptation.


Fire Carbon cycle Climate Peatlands Pyrogenic carbon Vegetation traits 



We acknowledge feedback and suggestions on the manuscript from Fang Li and Daniel Ward, the editor and two reviewers.


Gitta Lasslop is funded by the German Research Foundation. Sander Veraverbeke received support from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) through his Vidi grant ‘Fires pushing trees North’. Alysha Coppola received funding from the University of Zurich for Forschungskredit post-doctoral fellowship. Chao Yue received support from the China One Thousand Youth Programme.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research CentreFrankfurt am MainGermany
  2. 2.Department of GeographyUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of PhysicsImperial College LondonLondonUK
  4. 4.State Key Laboratory of Soil Erosion and Dryland Farming on the Loess PlateauNorthwest A&F UniversityYanglingPeople’s Republic of China
  5. 5.Vrije Universiteit AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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