Comparing fire-history interpretations based on area, number and estimated volume of macroscopic charcoal in lake sediments

Adam A. Ali, Philip E. Higuera, Yves Bergeron, Christopher Carcaillet

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    Abstract

    Sedimentary charcoal particles from lakes are commonly used to investigate fire history. Fire-history reconstructions are based on measuring the surface area or counting the number of charcoal fragments in adjacent samples. Recently, the volume of charcoal particles was advised as a more accurate method for quantifying past charcoal production. Large charcoal datasets, used to synthesize global fire history, include these different types of charcoal measurements and implicitly assume that they provide comparable fire-history information. However, no study has demonstrated that this assumption is valid. Here we compare fire-frequency reconstructions based on measurements of charcoal area and number, and estimates of charcoal volume from two lake sediment records from the eastern Canadian boreal forest. Results indicate that the three proxies provide comparable fire-history interpretations when using a locally defined threshold to identify fire events.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)462-468
    Number of pages7
    JournalQuaternary Research (United States)
    Volume72
    Issue number3
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Nov 2009

    Keywords

    • Boreal forest
    • Charcoal analysis
    • Charcoal particles
    • Fire frequency
    • Fire history
    • Holocene
    • Locally defined threshold

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