Modeling burned area in Europe with the community land model

M. Migliavacca*, A. Dosio, S. Kloster, D. S. Ward, A. Camia, R. Houborg, T. Houston Durrant, N. Khabarov, A. A. Krasovskii, J. San Miguel-Ayanz, A. Cescatti

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


In this study, we present simulations of a burned area at a European scale for the period 1990-2009 conducted with the Community Land Model (CLM). By using statistics on fire counts and mean fire suppression time from the European Fire Database, we refined the parameterization of the functions describing human ignition/suppression, and we modified the description of biomass availability for fires. The results obtained with the modified model show an improvement of the description of the spatial and interannual variability of the burned area: the model bias is reduced by 45%, and the explained variance is increased by about 9% compared to the original parameterization of the model. The observed relationships between burned area, climate (temperature and precipitation), and aboveground biomass are also reproduced more accurately by the modified model. This is particularly relevant for the applicability of the model to simulate future fire regimes under different climate conditions. However, results showed an overestimation of the burned area for some European countries (e.g., Spain and France) and an underestimation in years with an extreme fire season in Mediterranean countries. Our results highlight the need for refining the parameterization of human ignition/suppression and fuel availability for regional application of fire models implemented in land surface models. Key PointsBurned area predicted at European scale with 2 versions of Community Land ModelThe calibration of human dimension of fires is needed to predict burned areaThe modified CLM mimics the sensitivity of burned area to climate and biomass

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-279
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Community Land Model
  • burned area
  • climatic control
  • fire
  • fire suppression
  • human ignition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Soil Science
  • Forestry
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Palaeontology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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