EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Integration of a deep-learning-based fire model into a global land surface model

Rackhun Son1, Nuno Carvalhais1,2,3, Lazaro Silva1, Christian Requena-Mesa1, Ulrich Weber1, Veronika Gayler4, Tobias Stacke4, Reiner Schnur4, Julia Nabel1,4, Alexander Winkler1, and Sönke Zaehle1
Rackhun Son et al.
  • 1Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany.
  • 2ELLIS Unit Jena, Jena, Germany.
  • 3Departamento de Ciências e Engenharia do Ambiente, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Caparica, Portugal.
  • 4Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany.

Fire is an ubiquitous process within the Earth system that has significant impacts in terrestrial ecosystems. Process-based fire models quantify fire disturbance effects in stand-alone dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs) and within coupled Earth system models (ESMs), and their advances have incorporated both descriptions of natural processes and anthropogenic drivers. However, we still observe a limited skill in modeling and predicting fire at global scale, mostly due to the stochastic nature of fire, but also due to the limits in empirical parameterizations in these process-based models. As an alternative, statistical approaches have shown the advantages of machine learning in providing robust diagnostics of fire damages, though with limited value for process-based modeling frameworks. Here, we develop a deep-learning-based fire model (DL-fire) to estimate gridded burned area fraction at global scale and couple it within JSBACH4, the land surface model used in the ICON ESM. We compare the resulting hybrid model integrating DL-fire into JSBACH4 (JDL-fire) against the standard fire model within JSBACH4 and the stand-alone DL-fire results. The stand-alone DL-fire model forced with observations shows high performance in simulating global burnt fraction, showing a monthly correlation (Rm) with the Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED4) of 0.78 and of 0.8 at global scale during the training (2004-10) and validation periods (2011-15), respectively. The performance remains nearly the same when evaluating the hybrid modeling approach JDL-fire (Rm=0.76 and 0.86 in training and evaluation periods, respectively). This outperforms the currently used standard fire model in JSBACH4 (Rm=-0.16 and 0.22 in training and evaluation periods, respectively) by far. We further evaluate the modeling results across specific fire regions and apply layer-wise relevance propagation (LRP) to quantify importance of each predictor. Overall, land properties, such as fuel amount and water contents in soil layers, stand out as the major factors determining burnt fraction in DL-fire, paralleled by meteorological conditions, over tropical and high latitude regions. Our study demonstrates the potential of hybrid modeling in advancing the predictability of Earth system processes by integrating statistical learning approaches in physics-based dynamical systems.

How to cite: Son, R., Carvalhais, N., Silva, L., Requena-Mesa, C., Weber, U., Gayler, V., Stacke, T., Schnur, R., Nabel, J., Winkler, A., and Zaehle, S.: Integration of a deep-learning-based fire model into a global land surface model, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-9810,, 2023.