Cardiff University | Prifysgol Caerdydd ORCA
Online Research @ Cardiff 
WelshClear Cookie - decide language by browser settings

Changes in land use enhance the sensitivity of tropical ecosystems to fire-climate extremes

Kumar, Sujay, Getirana, Augusto, Libonati, Renata, Hain, Christopher, Mahanama, Sarith and Andela, Niels ORCID: 2022. Changes in land use enhance the sensitivity of tropical ecosystems to fire-climate extremes. Scientific Reports 12 (1) , 964. 10.1038/s41598-022-05130-0

[thumbnail of NA_s41598-022-05130-0.pdf]
PDF - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (1MB) | Preview


The Pantanal, the largest contiguous wetland in the world with a high diversity of ecosystems and habitat for several endangered species, was impacted by record-breaking wildfires in 2020. In this study, we integrate satellite and modeling data that enable exploration of natural and human contributing factors to the unprecedented 2020 fires. We demonstrate that the fires were fueled by an exceptional multi-year drought, but dry conditions solely could not explain the spatial patterns of burning. Our analysis reveals how human-caused fires exacerbated drought effects on natural ecosystem within the Pantanal, with large burned fractions primarily over natural (52%), and low cattle density areas (44%) in 2020. The post-fire ecosystem and hydrology changes also had strong ecological effects, with vegetation productivity less than − 1.5 σ over more than 30% of the natural and conservation areas. In contrast to more managed areas, there was a clear decrease in evaporation (by ~ 9%) and an increase in runoff (by ~ 5%) over the natural areas, with long-term impacts on ecosystem recovery and fire risk. This study provides the first tropical evidence outside rainforests of the synergy between climate, land management and fires, and the associated impacts on the ecosystem and hydrology over the largest contiguous wetlands in the world.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Publisher: Nature Research
ISSN: 2045-2322
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 11 March 2022
Date of Acceptance: 16 December 2021
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2023 16:28

Citation Data

Cited 12 times in Scopus. View in Scopus. Powered By Scopus® Data

Actions (repository staff only)

Edit Item Edit Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics