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Aims and scope

Recent record-breaking wildfires are being observed in the Arctic, boreal forests, the Amazon, the Mediterranean, Indonesia and Australia. Risks and costs due to fire are increasing in many regions while at the same time satellite data show a strong decrease in burned area likely related to human activities. These contradictory findings show the need for a holistic understanding of fire regimes and its drivers and impacts with ongoing and future land management and climate changes. Fire has been a part of the Earth system since the evolution of terrestrial biomass 420 million years ago. Despite being a risk to many human societies today, fire has played an important role in human evolution and as a tool and target in land management for millennia. Its role in biogeochemical cycles and ecosystem dynamics across various spatiotemporal scales is still poorly constrained, partly due to its complex feedbacks with climate and vegetation and multiple ways of how humans influence fire. The influence of fire on the local soil, vegetation, and hydrological properties, the global climate and biogeochemical cycles and the impact on society require inter- to transdisciplinary research approaches, as these components of the Earth system (including humans) are strongly linked.

This Galileo conference aims to provide a discussion-driven meeting to facilitate knowledge transfer between fire science disciplines and to identify research needs to support fire management of the future. Leading fire experts together with scientists and stakeholders from the fire and forest policy and management domains will discuss in plenary and breakout sessions 1) new joint perspectives on key processes, drivers and impacts of fire in the natural and human-shaped environments and 2) identify major gaps in socially relevant and actionable knowledge to guide future fire research. Participants will preferably represent different fire disciplines, temporal and spatial scales, career phases and regional foci.

Main themes

  • Concepts in fire–vegetation–climate interactions
  • Fire–climate–vegetation interactions across space and time
  • Past human–fire relationships
  • Pyrogenic carbon cycle
  • Post-fire impacts on erosion and hydrological regimes
  • Human fire management and fire science communication