Relationships between human population density and burned area at continental and global scales

Ioannis Bistinas, Duarte Oom, Ana C L Sá, Sandy P. Harrison, I. Colin Prentice, José M C Pereira

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)
8 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

We explore the large spatial variation in the relationship between population density and burned area, using continental-scale Geographically Weighted Regression (GWR) based on 13 years of satellite-derived burned area maps from the global fire emissions database (GFED) and the human population density from the gridded population of the world (GPW 2005). Significant relationships are observed over 51.5% of the global land area, and the area affected varies from continent to continent: population density has a significant impact on fire over most of Asia and Africa but is important in explaining fire over < 22% of Europe and Australia. Increasing population density is associated with both increased and decreased in fire. The nature of the relationship depends on land-use: increasing population density is associated with increased burned are in rangelands but with decreased burned area in croplands. Overall, the relationship between population density and burned area is non-monotonic: burned area initially increases with population density and then decreases when population density exceeds a threshold. These thresholds vary regionally. Our study contributes to improved understanding of how human activities relate to burned area, and should contribute to a better estimate of atmospheric emissions from biomass burning.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere81188
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume8
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Dec 2013

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) [2013]. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

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