• A personal note on IGBP and the social sciences

    Humans are an integral component of the Earth system as conceptualised by IGBP. João Morais recalls key milestones in IGBP’s engagement with the social sciences and offers some words of advice for Future Earth.
  • IGBP and Earth observation:
    a co-evolution

    The iconic images of Earth beamed back by the earliest spacecraft helped to galvanise interest in our planet’s environment. The subsequent evolution and development of satellites for Earth observation has been intricately linked with that of IGBP and other global-change research programmes, write Jack Kaye and Cat Downy .

The Role of Fire in the Earth System

The objective of the Fire FTI was to synthesise quantitative knowledge on the impacts of changes in fire regimes worldwide on a range of ecosystem services.

The FTI reached its peak of activity in 2005, with several workshops around its 3 tasks, (i) historical fire regimes (ii) generation of global maps of fire regimes (past, present and future) with corresponding maps of fire emissions and (iii) intercomparison of landscape fire models. The activities in 2005 focused on (a) assembling global and regional data for fire-model development and testing, as well as towards improvement of emission estimates; and (b) improving our understanding of the behaviour of landscape fire models for upscaling to regional and global models that can suitably account for spatial heterogeneity in fuels generated by biophysical features, land use and past fire regimes.


A booklet of abstracts from the Fire History Workshop in Flagstaff in May, an article in the Newsletter Quaternary Times, standarization of methodologies, establishment of a list-serve for the paleo-fire community establishment of a central access point for modern fire history data, as well as scientific articles (see listing below).

In preparation are a number of synthesis manuscripts and special issues for submission in high-profile international journals. The Fire FTI was granted an extension of one year in order to complete products in preparation (fire regime maps, journal articles and guidelines for future global fire research) and to accomplish the synthesis of the record of fire regimes from the Last Glacial Maximum to the present.

Past SC contact and organiser: Sandra Lavorel


Cary, G. J., R. E. Keane, R. H. Gardner, S. Lavorel, M. D. Flannigan, I. D. Davies, C. Li, J. M. Lenihan, T. S. Rupp, and F. Mouillot (2005). Comparison of the sensitivity of landscape-fire-succession models to variation in terrain, fuel pattern and climate. Landscape Ecology 21 (1): 121-137.

Keane, R. E., G. Cary, I. D. Davies, M. Flannigan, R. H. Gardner, S. Lavorel, J. M. Lenihan, C. Li, and T. S. Rupp. (2006) [in press]. Understanding global fire dynamics by classifying and comparing spatial models of vegetation and fire dynamics. In J. Canadell, L. Patalki, and P. P., editors. Terrestrial Ecosystems in a Changing World -- GCTE Synthesis Book. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom, 139-148 pp.

Keane, R. E., G. Cary, I. D. Davies, M. D. Flannigan, R. H. Gardner, S. Lavorel, J. M. Lennihan, C. Li, and T. S. Rupp (2004). A classification of landscape fire succession models: spatially explicit models of fire and vegetation dynamic. Ecological Modelling 256:3-27.

Lavorel, S., M.D. Flannigan, E.F. Lambin and M. Scholes (2006) Regional vulnerability to fire: feedbacks, nonlinearities, and interactions. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Climate Change 12:1 33-53.

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IGBP closed at the end of 2015. This website is no longer updated.

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