Coupling interactive fire with atmospheric composition and climate in the UK Earth System Model [post]

João C. Teixeira, Gerd Folberth, Fiona M. O'Connor, Nadine Unger, Apostolos Voulgarakis
2020 unpublished
Abstract. Fire constitutes a key process in the Earth system (ES) being driven by climate as well as affecting the climate by changing atmospheric composition and impacting the terrestrial carbon cycle. However, studies on the effects of fires on atmospheric composition, radiative forcing and climate have been limited to date, as the current generation of ES models (ESMs) do not include fully coupled fires. The aim of this work is the development and evaluation of a fully coupled
more » ... pled fire-composition-climate ES model. For this, the INteractive Fires and Emissions algoRithm for Natural envirOnments (INFERNO) fire model is coupled to the atmosphere-only configuration of the UK's Earth System Model (UKESM1). This fire-atmosphere interaction through atmospheric chemistry and aerosols allows for fire emissions to influence radiation, clouds, and generally weather, which can consequently influence the meteorological drivers of fire. Additionally, INFERNO is updated based on recent developments in the literature to improve the representation of human/economic factors in the anthropogenic ignition and suppression of fire. This work presents an assessment of the effects of interactive fire coupling on atmospheric composition and climate compared to the standard UKESM1 configuration that uses prescribed fire emissions. Results show a similar performance when using the fire-atmosphere coupling (the online version of the model) when compared to the offline UKESM1 that uses prescribed fire. The model can reproduce observed present day global fire emissions of carbon monoxide (CO) and aerosols, despite underestimating the global average burnt area. However, at a regional scale there is an overestimation of fire emissions over Africa due to the misrepresentation of the underlying vegetation types and an underestimation over Equatorial Asia due to a lack of representation of peat fires. Despite this, comparing model results with observations of CO column mixing ratio and aerosol optical depth show that the fire-atmosphere coupled configuration has a similar performance when compared to UKESM1. In fact, including the interactive biomass burning emissions improves the interannual CO atmospheric column variability and consequently its seasonality over the main biomass burning regions – Africa and South America. Similarly, for aerosols, the AOD results broadly agree with MODIS and AERONET observations.
doi:10.5194/gmd-2020-298 fatcat:lhf4edgzsvc4lltpbytgdxjnzi