08 Nov 2023
 | 08 Nov 2023
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

INFERNO-peat v1.0.0: A representation of northern high latitude peat fires in the JULES-INFERNO global fire model

Katie R. Blackford, Matthew Kasoar, Chantelle Burton, Eleanor Burke, Iain Colin Prentice, and Apostolos Voulgarakis

Abstract. Peat fires in the Northern high latitudes have the potential to burn vast amounts of carbon rich organic soil, releasing large quantities of long-term stored carbon to the atmosphere. Due to anthropogenic activities and climate change, peat fires are increasing in frequency and intensity across the high latitudes. However, at present they are not explicitly included in most fire models. Here we detail the development of INFERNO-peat, the first parameterisation of peat fires in the JULES-INFERNO fire model. INFERNO-peat utilises knowledge from lab and field-based studies on peat fire ignition and spread to be able to model peat burnt area, burn depth and carbon emissions, based on data of the moisture content, inorganic content, bulk density, soil temperature and water table depth of peat. INFERNO-peat improves the representation of burnt area in the high latitudes, with peat fires simulating on average an additional 0.305 M km2 of burn area each year, emitting 224.10 Tg of carbon. Compared to GFED5, INFERNO-peat captures ~20 % more burnt area, whereas INFERNO underestimated burning by 50 %. Additionally, INFERNO-peat substantially improves the representation of interannual variability in burnt area and subsequent carbon emissions across the high latitudes. The coefficient of variation in carbon emissions is increased from 0.071 in INFERNO to 0.127 in INFERNO-peat, an almost 80 % increase. Therefore, explicitly modelling peat fires shows a substantial improvement in the fire modelling capabilities of JULES-INFERNO, highlighting the importance of representing peatland systems in fire models.

Katie R. Blackford et al.

Status: open (until 03 Jan 2024)

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Katie R. Blackford et al.

Model code and software

INFERNO-peat V1.0.0 Katie R. Blackford, Matthew Kasoar, Chantelle Burton, Colin Prentice, Apostolos Voulgarakis

Katie R. Blackford et al.


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Short summary
Peatlands are globally important stores of carbon, which are being increasingly threatened by wildfires with knock-on effects on the climate system. Here we introduce a novel peat fire parameterisation in the Northern high latitudes to the INFERNO global fire model. Representing peat fires increases annual burnt area across the high latitudes, alongside improvements in how we capture year-to-year variation in burning and emissions.