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Vegetation fires occur worldwide, all year round, and inject great quantities of trace gases and particulates into the atmosphere. Nonetheless there is still uncertainty as to their global spatial and temporal distribution. In this study, global daily daytime NOAA-AVHRR data at 1km spatial resolution, from April 1992 to March 1993 have been processed to give the positions of active vegetation fires. Fires were detected in every month of the year and over 70% of all fires were seen within the tropics. Grassland savannah fires accounted for the largest proportion. In addition to the detailed analysis of global fire distributions we have also explored methodologies for parameterising the key spatial and temporal aspects of the distributions. The patterns have been grouped into a small number of classes based on the spatial and temporal characteristics of the data. Finally we show how these different patterns of fire activity can be related to particular climate conditions and vegetation types. The methodology presented can be used for the analysis of inter-annual fire distributions and in the prediction of future fire regimes.

This report is a PhD thesis produced with the help of a European Commission TMR grant for a period of work at the JRC Institute for Environment and Sustainability at Ispra.

Additional information

Authors: DWYER E P, Universidade Técnica de Lisboa, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Lisbon (PT) and European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, Ispra (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: EUR 20160 EN (2002), pp.196. Euro: Free of charge
Availability: Available from European Commission, JRC Knowledge Management Unit, Ispra (IT) Tel: +39 033278 9843 or +39 033278 9864 Fax: +39 033278 9623 E-mail:
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