EGU23-12716, updated on 26 Feb 2023
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Investigating causal effects of anthropogenic factors on global fire modeling

Nirlipta Pande and Wouter Dorigo
Nirlipta Pande and Wouter Dorigo
  • CLIMERS, Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation, TU Wien, Austria

Humans significantly control the natural environment and natural processes. Global fire ignitions are a prime example of how human actions change the frequency of occurrence of otherwise rare events like wildfires. However, human controls on fire ignition are insufficiently characterised by global fire models because impacts are often indirect, complex, and collinear. Hence, modelling fire activity while considering the complex relationships amongst the input variables and their effect on global ignitions is crucial to developing fire models reflecting the real world. 

This presentation leverages causal inference and machine learning frameworks applied to global datasets of fire ignitions from Earth observations and potential drivers to uncover anthropogenic pathways on fire ignition. Potential fire controls include human predictors from Earth observations and statistical data combined with variables traditionally associated with fire activity, like weather, and vegetation abundance and state, derived from earth observations and models.

Our research models causal relationships between fire control variables and global ignitions using Directed Acyclic Graphs(DAGs). Here, every edge between variables symbolises a relation between them; the edge weight indicates the strength of the relationship, and the orientation of the edge between the variables signifies the cause-and-effect relationship between the variables. However, defining a fire ignition distribution using DAGs is challenging owing to the large combinatorial sample space and acyclicity constraint. We use Bayesian structure learning to make these approximations and infer the extent of human intervention when combined with climate variables and vegetation properties. Our research demonstrates the need for causal modelling and the inclusion of anthropogenic factors in global fire modelling.

How to cite: Pande, N. and Dorigo, W.: Investigating causal effects of anthropogenic factors on global fire modeling, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-12716,, 2023.

Supplementary materials

Supplementary material file