EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Palaeofire: current status and future opportunities

Sandy Harrison1, Daniel Gallagher1,3, Paul Lincoln1, Mengmeng Liu1,4, Yicheng Shen1, Luke Sweeney1, and Roberto Villegas-Diaz1
Sandy Harrison et al.
  • 1University of Reading, Geography and Environmental Science, Reading, United Kingdom of Great Britain – England, Scotland, Wales (
  • 3Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, TW20 0 SS, UK
  • 4Department of Life Sciences, Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Buckhurst Road, Ascot SL5 7PY, UK

Sedimentary charcoal records are widely used to reconstruct regional changes in fire regimes through time in the geological past. The Reading Palaeofire Database (RPD) represents the most comprehensive compilation of sedimentary charcoal data currently available. It contains 1673 individual charcoal records from 1480 sites worldwide, with sufficient metadata to allow for the appropriate selection of sites to address specific questions. Most of the records have new age models, made by re-calibrating the radiocarbon ages using INTCAL2020 and Bayesian age-modelling software. In this talk we will show how these data are being used to document changing fire regimes during the Late Quaternary and to explore how fire regimes have responded to changes in climate, vegetation and human activities. We will demonstrate the progress that has been made to calibrate the charcoal records and make quantitative estimates of fire properties. We will also explore how these data can be used to evaluate and benchmark process-based fire-enabled models. Finally, we will highlight opportunities to use the palaeo-record together with models to explore fire regimes and their consequences for land-surface processes, biogeochemical cycles and climate.

How to cite: Harrison, S., Gallagher, D., Lincoln, P., Liu, M., Shen, Y., Sweeney, L., and Villegas-Diaz, R.: Palaeofire: current status and future opportunities, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-1217,, 2022.