Influence of Fire on the 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.

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Fig. 1


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

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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.

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Lasslop, G., Coppola, A.I., Voulgarakis, A. et al. Influence of Fire on the Carbon Cycle and Climate. Curr Clim Change Rep 5, 112–123 (2019).

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  • Fire
  • Carbon cycle
  • Climate
  • Peatlands
  • Pyrogenic carbon
  • Vegetation traits