Global Paleofire Working Group


Global Paleofire Working Group Background

The first Global Paleofire Working Group was active from 2008 to 2015.

An effort to develop a proof of concept Global Charcoal database at the University of Oregon, during Jennifer Marlon's dissertation work in 2004, quickly evolved into the Global Paleofire Working Group (GPWG) through a coordination team including Sandy Harrison, Mitchell Power (post-doc) and later Anne-Laure Daniau (post-doc).

The GPWG grew to over 100 members through workshops supported by a number of national and international agencies, including PAGES, QUEST and Integrated Land Ecosystem–Atmosphere Processes Study (iLEAPS) projects.

Science outcomes emerging from the GPWG included the creation of the public-access Global Charcoal Database and an international research community with multiple-authored papers describing observed spatiotemporal changes in fire at global and regional scales (e.g. time series and maps).

Link to the external GPWG website.

The Global Charcoal Database

The Global Charcoal Database was the key product of the GPWG created in 2006 as a result of discussions during the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme (IGBP) Fast-Track Initiative on Fire.

Project funding, through the QUEST (Quantifying and Understanding Earth Systems) program of the UK Natural Environment Research Council, enabled GPWG to put together a global database of sedimentary charcoal records. In 2007 the GPWG was part of the IGBP Cross-Project Initiative on Fire.

The aim of the Global Charcoal Database (GCD) is to provide the scientific community with a global paleofire dataset for research and archiving sedimentary records of fire. Global syntheses have enabled the examination of broad-scale patterns in palaeofire activity, created a framework for exploring the linkages among fire, climate and vegetation at centennial-to-multi-millennial time scales and allows evaluation of fire model simulations at regional to global scales.

Synthesis workshop

The synthesis workshop of the GPWG, titled "Advances in Interdisciplinary Paleofire Research: Data and Model Comparisons for the Past Millennium", was held at Harvard Forest in Petersham, Massachusetts, USA, from 27 September to 2 October 2015.

The workshop aim was to bring researchers with paleodata expertise together with global fire modelers in order to improve both the data and the models. Access the workshop report here.

A meeting report, titled "Paleofires and Models Illuminate Future Fire Scenarios" was also published in Eos on 13 April 2016. Access the Eos meeting report here.

Further information

To learn more about the second stage of Global Paleofire (GPWG2), which began in 2016, go here.

Contact the group via email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit the webpage of the continuing project, International Paleofire Network, here.