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Article: A novel approach for predicting the probability of ignition of palaeofires using fossil leaf assemblages

Palaeontology - Vol 62, Part 5 - Cover Image
Publication: Palaeontology
Volume: 62
Part: 5
Publication Date: September 2019
Page(s): 715 730
Author(s): Chris A. Boulton, and Claire M. Belcher
Addition Information

How to Cite

BOULTON, C.A., BELCHER, C.M. 2019. . Palaeontology, 62, 5, 715-730. DOI: /doi/10.1111/pala.12417

Author Information

  • Chris A. Boulton - wildFIRE Lab, Hatherly Laboratories University of Exeter Prince of Wales Road Exeter Devon EX4 4PS UK
  • Claire M. Belcher - wildFIRE Lab, Hatherly Laboratories University of Exeter Prince of Wales Road Exeter Devon EX4 4PS UK

Publication History

  • Issue published online: 29 August 2019
  • Manuscript Accepted: 28 November 2018
  • Manuscript Received: 13 April 2018

Funded By

European Research Council Starter Grant. Grant Number: ERC‐2013‐StG‐335891‐ECOFLAM
Marie Curie Career Integration Grant. Grant Number: PCIG10‐GA‐2011‐303610

Online Version Hosted By

Wiley Online Library
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Many metrics are used to predict and manage wildfires today but it is difficult to directly apply these to past wildfires histories. Developing an approach that enables estimation of these fire metrics in the past would provide significant power in our ability to compare past fire risk with that of the modern day. We use the Climate Leaf Analysis Multivariate Program (CLAMP) to estimate warm month mean temperature and annual mean relative humidity for a modern day leaf dataset and establish a novel methodology by which we can generate ‘pseudo‐daily’ meteorological parameters to calculate the probability of ignition (p(I)), an aspect of the North American Fire Danger Rating System. We test this methodology on Tortonian aged fossil leaves (11.62–7.25 Ma) from five sites across California, which reveal that the Tortonian was cooler and considerably more humid and that p(I) was lower during this time than in the region today.

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