Fires are an important source of atmospheric trace gases and aerosols and are the most important disturbance agent on a global scale. In addition, deforestation and tropical peatland fires and areas that see an increase in the frequency of fires add to the build-up of atmospheric CO2.
We have combined satellite information on fire activity and vegetation productivity to estimate gridded monthly burned area and fire emissions, as well as scalars that can be used to calculate higher temporal resolution emissions. The resulting datasets are downloadable from this website for use in large-scale atmospheric and biogeochemical studies. The core datasets are monthly burned area, monthly emissions (carbon emissions as well as a suite of trace gas and aerosol emissions), and fields to distribute the monthly emissions to a daily time step, or a 3-hourly time step using a mean diurnal cycle.
The current version of the burned area dataset is 4 (GFED4), for emissions it is version 3 and version 4 will be released early 2014.
While the data was released initially as the Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED) and will still be released as GFED, it now also includes burned area and other datasets besides the emissions fields
Annual burned area (as percentage of the area of the grid cell), averaged over 1997-2009. For November 2000 onwards it is for 90% based on mapped MODIS burned area using the direct broadcast algorithm, aggregated from the native 500-meter resolution to 0.5 degree. The remaining 10% and burned area for 1997 - October 2000 are based on relations between active fires (ATSR, TRMM-VIRS, and MODIS) and mapped burned area for periods they overlap.
Annual carbon emissions (as g C m-2 year-1), averaged over 1997-2009. These emissions estimates are build combining burned area data from above with a biogeochemical model (CASA-GFED) that estimates fuel loads and combustion completeness for each monthly time step. These fuel loads are based on satellite derived information on vegetation characteristics and productivity to estimate carbon input, and carbon outputs through heterotrophic respiration, herbivory, and fires.