University of Canberra
Research Projects
Fire regimes, forest and carbon dynamics under climate change in SE Australia.
State/Territory: NSW

This study used simulation modelling to investigate fire and carbon dynamics for projected warmer and drier climates in the south eastern Australian high country. A carbon accounting model FullCAM and the landscape fire regime simulator FIRESCAPE were combined and used to simulate a number of fire management options under three climate scenarios - the recent climate (1975-2005); a moderate climate projected for 2070 (B1); and a more extreme climate projected for 2070 (A1FI). For warmer and drier climates, model simulations predicted (i) an increase in fire incidence; (ii) larger areas burned; (iii) higher mean fire intensities; (iv) shorter fire cycle lengths; (v) a greater proportion of fires burning earlier in the fire season; (vi) a reduction in carbon stores; (vii) a reduction in carbon sequestration rates; and (viii) an increase in the proportion of stored carbon emitted to the atmosphere. Prescribed burning at historical or twice historical levels had no effect on fire or carbon dynamics. In contrast, increasing the initial attack success (a surrogate for suppression) partially offset the adverse impacts of warmer and drier climates on fire activity, but not on carbon dynamics. For the south eastern Australian high country, simulations indicated that fire and carbon dynamics are sensitive to climate change, with simulated fire management only being able to partially offset the adverse impacts of warmer and drier climate.

Geographic location:
Australian Alps/ High Country
Research theme:
Climate Change and Sustainability
Organisation:
Fenner School of Environment and Society, The Australian National University, and National Carbon Accounting System, Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.
Funding agency:
Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency.
Main researchers:
Dr Karen King, Dr Geoff Cary
Timing:
01 Jun 2006 - 31 Dec 2009