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Paleo fires from high-alpine ice cores

English title Paleo fires from high-alpine ice cores
Applicant Schwikowski Margit
Number 154450
Funding scheme Sinergia
Research institution Paul Scherrer Institut
Institution of higher education Paul Scherrer Institute - PSI
Main discipline Climatology. Atmospherical Chemistry, Aeronomy
Start/End 01.01.2015 - 31.12.2018
Approved amount 1'884'695.15
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All Disciplines (3)

Discipline
Climatology. Atmospherical Chemistry, Aeronomy
Hydrology, Limnology, Glaciology
Other disciplines of Environmental Sciences

Keywords (10)

global climate modeling; biomass burning; ice cores; black carbon; global change; ecosystem responses; satellite fire products; charcoal; climate change; fire tracers

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Rekonstruktion von Waldbränden mit Hilfe von Eiskernen hochalpiner GletscherGrossflächige Wald- und Buschbrände setzen nicht zu vernachlässigende Mengen von Treibausgasen und Schwebstaubpartikeln in die Atmosphäre frei. Global gesehen sind diese Emissionen in der Grössenordnung von denjenigen aus der Verbrennung von fossilen Brennstoffen. Bisher wurde angenommen, dass die Stärke und Anzahl der Brände erheblich von der Umgebungstemperatur abhängt. Dieser Zusammenhang ist deutlich für die vergangenen tausende von Jahren. In den letzten 150 Jahren hat aber die Anzahl der Brände abgenommen, obwohl die Temperatur zunahm. Es ist nicht endgültig verstanden, ob diese Entkopplung von Feuer und Klima nur auf die zunehmende Zerstückelung der Landräume und auf Feuer-Management zurückzuführen sind oder ob die Feuer-Rekonstruktionen über diesen Zeitraum unsicher sind.
Lay summary

Inhalt und Ziel des Forschungsprojekts

Im Projekt „Paleo fires from high-alpine ice cores“ möchten wir den Zusammenhang zwischen Feuer und Klima in verschiedenen Regionen der Erde über die letzten 150 Jahre im Vergleich zu den 2000 Jahren davor untersuchen.

Dafür werden wir Russ und Holzkohle in Eiskernen von hochalpinen Gletschern chemisch analysieren und daraus regionale Rekonstruktionen der Häufigkeit von Bränden für Zentral-Europa, Süd-Sibirien, Amazonien und der Arktis erstellen. Das Einzugsgebiet der jeweiligen Gletscher-Archive werden wir durch Einbindung von Russ und Holzkohle in ein globales Klimamodell ermitteln. Zusätzlich werden wir mit Satelliten-Daten einzelne Brände identifizieren und mit dem Signal im Eiskern in Verbindung bringen. Ein Vorteil der Verwendung von bereits datierten Eiskernen gegenüber Seesedimenten, die normalerweise zur Rekonstruktion von Bränden verwendet werden, ist dass die Eiskerne über die letzten 150 Jahre eine besonders genaue Zeitskala aufweisen. Ausserdem enthalten sie neben Holzkohle auch noch zusätzliche Feuer- und Klima-Indikatoren, wie z.B. Russ und andere chemische Verbrennungsprodukte, die mit hoher zeitlicher Auflösung analysiert werden können.

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext des Forschungsprojekts

Ein besseres Verständnis der bei der Entstehung von Bränden zugrundeliegenden Prozesse ist besonders wichtig in Anbetracht der zurzeit beobachteten weltweiten Häufigkeit von verheerenden Wald- und Buschbränden. Zusätzlich ist dieses Verständnis entscheidend für ein geeignetes Feuer-Management unter zukünftigen Klimaszenarien.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 05.11.2014

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Dr. Konstantin Khlopenkov, NASA United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Dr. E. Isaksson, Norwegian Institute for Polar Research Norway (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr. M. Gysel, Laboratory of Atmospheric Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institut Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. Dr. Hermann Behling, Tropical Paleoecology Lab, University of Göttingen Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Dr. S. Szidat, University of Bern Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. Imad El Haddad, Paul Scherrer Institut Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. Isabelle Bey, Center for Climate System Modelling, ETHZ Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. A. Prevot, Laboratory for Atmospheric Chemistry, Paul Scherrer Institut Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Dr. Silvia Kloster, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
Prof. Dr. Thomas Blunier, Center for Ice and Climate, University of Copenhagen Denmark (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Dr. T. Papina, Institut of Water and Einvironmental Problems Russia (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Swiss Geoscience Meeting Talk given at a conference Millennial ice record reveals industrial footprint in European vegetation 30.11.2018 Bern, Switzerland Gobet Erika; Schwörer Christoph; Schwikowski Margit; Brügger Sandra Olivia; Tinner Willy; Sigl Michael;
Swiss Geoscience Meeting Talk given at a conference Aerosols and land cover in the Roman Empire 30.11.2018 Bern, Switzerland Lohmann Ulrike; Gilgen Anina;
Ecological Society of America Annual meeting Poster Ice records reveal climatic vulnerability of Altai forest and steppe communities 05.08.2018 New Orleans, United States of America Schwikowski Margit; Sigl Michael; Tinner Willy; Gobet Erika; Osmont Dimitri Rudolphe Quentin;
Polar 2018 SCAR/IASC Open Science Conference Talk given at a conference An Andean ice-core based Holocene biomass burning record of the Amazon Basin 19.06.2018 Davos, Switzerland Schwikowski Margit; Osmont Dimitri Rudolphe Quentin; Sigl Michael;
19th Swiss Global Change Day Poster 5500 years of frozen vegetation and fire dynamics in the Mongolian Altai 19.04.2018 Bern, Switzerland Gobet Erika; Brügger Sandra Olivia; Tinner Willy;
European Geosciences Union General Assembly Talk given at a conference Global modelling of microscopic charcoal particles 08.04.2018 Vienna, Austria Tinner Willy; Lohmann Ulrike; Schwikowski Margit; Gilgen Anina; Brügger Sandra Olivia; Ickes Luisa;
European Geoscience Union general assembly Poster 30-year European active fire records from the AVHRR heritage sensor 08.04.2018 Vienna, Austria Weber Helga; Wunderle Stefan;
Symposium on Cryosphere and Biosphere, International Glaciological Society (IGS) Talk given at a conference FrozenNature: the contribution of palynology to reconstruct large-scale paleo fire and vegetation dynamics from high-alpine ice cores 14.03.2018 Kyoto, Japan Tinner Willy; Brügger Sandra Olivia; Sigl Michael; Schwikowski Margit; Osmont Dimitri Rudolphe Quentin; Gobet Erika;
11th EARSeL Forest Fire Special Interest Group Workshop on "New Trends in Forest Fire Research Incorporating Big Data and Climate Change Modeling" Talk given at a conference Active fire retrieval from AVHRR imagery since 1985 for Europe - Potential and caveats of a heritage sensor 25.09.2017 Chania, Greece Wunderle Stefan; Weber Helga;
PAGES Open Science Meeting Poster Climate, land-use change and fire activity in Central Asia during the past 6,000 years and its relation to volcanic and solar activity 09.05.2017 Zaragoza, Spain Osmont Dimitri Rudolphe Quentin; Schwikowski Margit; Sigl Michael; Tinner Willy; Brügger Sandra Olivia;
Overcoming reductionism when linking climate variability with human history – a cross-disciplinary approach in the Altai Mountains, PAGES workshop Talk given at a conference FROZENFIRE – 5000 years of fire, vegetation and pollution history from a high alpine ice core in the Mongolian Altai 10.04.2017 Krasnoyarsk, Russia Tinner Willy; Brügger Sandra Olivia; Schwikowski Margit; Gobet Erika;
Early Human Impact Final Workshop Poster A 6000-year history of forest fires and climate from an ice-core in Mongolia 24.11.2016 Venice, Italy Sigl Michael;
Early Human Impact Final Workshop Talk given at a conference Fire tracers in high-alpine ice cores 24.11.2016 Venice, Italy Schwikowski Margit;
14th Swiss Geoscience Meeting Poster Towards the reconstruction of forest fires through chemical analysis of black carbon in ice cores from mountain glaciers 18.11.2016 Geneva, Switzerland Schwikowski Margit; Osmont Dimitri Rudolphe Quentin;
14th Swiss Geoscience Meeting Poster FROZENFIRE – A high-alpine ice core record to assess vegetation and fire dynamics in Western Europe over the last millennium and FROZENFIRE – 5000 years of fire, vegetation and pollution history from the Mongolian Altai 18.11.2016 Geneva, Switzerland Brügger Sandra Olivia;
SGM – Swiss Geoscience Meeting Poster FROZENFIRE – A high-alpine ice core record to assess vegetation and fire dynamics in Western Europe over the last millennium 18.11.2016 Geneva, Switzerland Brügger Sandra Olivia;
International Swiss Climate Summer School Poster 400 years of black carbon emissions recorded in the Lomonosovfonna ice core, Svalbard 28.08.2016 Grindelwald, Switzerland Osmont Dimitri Rudolphe Quentin;
15th Swiss Cimate Summer School: Climate Risks – Coping with uncertainty Poster Fire activity in Europe: Assessing the accuracy of different satellite products 28.08.2016 Grindelwald, Switzerland Weber Helga;
8th Earth Observation Summer School on Earth System Monitoring and Modelling organized by ESA Poster Fire activity in Europe: Assessing the accuracy of different satellite products 01.08.2016 Frascati, Italy Weber Helga;
European Geosciences Union Annual Assembly Poster End of the “Little Ice Age” in Europe not forced by industrialization 17.04.2016 Vienna, Austria Sigl Michael;
2nd International IPICS Meeting Poster End of the “Little Ice Age” in Europe not forced by industrialization 07.03.2016 Hobart, Australia Schwikowski Margit; Sigl Michael;
Biology'16 -The Annual Swiss Conference on Ecology, Evolution, Systematics, Biogeography and Conservation Poster FROZENFIRE – vegetation and fire dynamics from high-alpine ices cores 11.02.2016 Lausanne, Switzerland Brügger Sandra Olivia;
BACCHUS annual meeting Poster Wildfire Emissions: From the Past to the Future 26.01.2016 Zurich, Switzerland Gilgen Anina;
10th EARSeL Forest Fire Special Interest Group Workshop Talk given at a conference Paleo fires and remote sensing? – Towards an inter-satellite accuracy assessment of past and recent fires in Europe 02.11.2015 Limassol, Cyprus Weber Helga; Wunderle Stefan;
14th Swiss Climate Summer School: Extreme events and climate Poster Remote sensing of past and recent fires: Assessing the accuracy of different satellite products 23.08.2015 Ascona, Switzerland Weber Helga;
14th Swiss Climate Summer School: Extreme events and climate Poster FROZENFIRE – a contribution to Paleo Fires from high-alpine ice cores over the last two millennia 23.08.2015 Ascona, Switzerland Tinner Willy; Osmont Dimitri Rudolphe Quentin; Gobet Erika; Brügger Sandra Olivia; Colombaroli Daniele; Sigl Michael; Schwikowski Margit;
XIX INQUA: Quaternary Perspectives on Climate Change, Natural Hazards and Civilization Talk given at a conference Combining frozen fire, vegetation and climate records with satellite and modelling approaches 26.07.2015 Nagoya, Japan Tinner Willy;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: radio, television Eiskalte Geschichten SRF 2 German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media Europe’s Triumphs and Troubles Are Written in Swiss Ice New York Times International 2018
Media relations: radio, television Neue Beweise zu Gletscher-Schmelze SRF Tagesschau German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Talks/events/exhibitions Forschung live erleben: Das lange Gedächtnis der Gletscher German-speaking Switzerland 2016

Awards

Title Year
Best Poster Price in the category Geosphere/Biosphere, 19th Swiss Global Change day 2018
Early Career Poster Award: Section Europe and Russia, organized by APECS, SCAR and IASC 2018
Best Poster Price category Biogeography Biology'16 -The Annual Swiss Conference on Ecology, Evolution, Systematics, Biogeography and Conservation 2016
Young Scientist Poster Award of the Swiss Society of Snow, Ice, and Permafrost (SEP-SCNAT) 2016

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
171620 Girls on Ice: Using Immersion to Inspire Interest in Science 01.03.2017 Agora
175824 Exploiting orographic clouds for constraining the sources of ice crystals 01.10.2017 Project funding (Div. I-III)
181985 Reconstructing historic and modern anthropogenic FSU heavy metal pollution 01.04.2019 Project funding (Div. I-III)
134616 Paleo-environmental and modeling insights into Mediterranean fire-vegetation interactions in response to Holocene climate and land use changes 01.12.2011 Project funding (Div. I-III)
182765 Reconstruction of pre-industrial to industrial changes of organic aerosols from glacier ice cores 01.03.2019 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

Fires play a major role in the global carbon budget through emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols. On a global scale today’s biomass burning emissions contribute roughly 50% of those from fossil fuel combustion. However, the most important drivers for the long-term biomass burning trend are still largely debated. During the last 150 years a decoupling of fire activity from the main drivers temperature and population density was suggested, because of its typical shape the reconstructed fire activity pattern was denominated “broken” fire hockey stick. The decoupling between fire and climate is in agreement with increases in landscape fragmentation, but is not supported by other data such as methane concentrations, implying that the underlying processes are not fully understood. This lack of understanding in combination with the worldwide occurrence of devastating wildfires in the past decades raises major concerns about the capacity to manage fire under future climate change scenarios. The project “Paleo fires from high-alpine ice cores” (further referred to as Paleo fires) is an integrated research frame work aiming to test the hypothesis of the “broken” fire hockey stick. The overall objective is to significantly advance the understanding of complex systemic linkages between climate, land use, fire and vegetation for different regions over the most recent period of the last 150 years in comparison to the previous 2000 years. The approach of Paleo fires is to establish regional paleo fire histories from multi-proxy high-alpine ice core records in the four geographical areas of Central Europe, Southern Siberia, tropical Amazonia, and the Arctic, using Black Carbon (BC) and charcoal as fire tracers. The atmospheric footprint of the ice cores in terms of the different sources contributing to BC and charcoal will be determined using back tra-jectories and global modelling of biomass burning relevant tracers to better understand the representativeness of the individual proxies. Quantitative transfer functions will be developed through identification of single fire events and their corresponding burned area from satellite data in combination with air mass trajectories.Paleo fires will be based on analyses of existing high-alpine ice cores with a good, controlled chronology particularly for the time period AD1850 to present, allowing linking modern ice core data directly with coincide observations from satellites. This is a major advantage compared to previous fire records, which are partly undated and usually have multi-decadal resolutions only. The ice cores have the additional benefit of containing complementary information on past climate and vegetation changes on the same high-resolution time scale as the fire tracers.
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