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Changes in Fire Activity in Africa from 2002 to 2016 and Their Potential Drivers.

  • Author(s): Zubkova, Maria
  • Boschetti, Luigi
  • Abatzoglou, John T
  • Giglio, Louis
  • et al.
Abstract

While several studies have reported a recent decline in area burned in Africa, the causes of this decline are still not well understood. In this study, we found that from 2002 to 2016 burned area in Africa declined by 18.5%, with the strongest decline (80% of the area) in the Northern Hemisphere. One third of the reduction in burned area occurred in croplands, suggesting that changes in agricultural practices (including cropland expansion) are not the predominant factor behind recent changes in fire extent. Linear models that considered interannual variability in climate factors directly related to biomass productivity and aridity explained about 70% of the decline in burned area in natural land cover. Our results provide evidence that despite the fact that most fires are human-caused in Africa, increased terrestrial moisture during 2002-2016 facilitated declines in fire activity in Africa.

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