Journal cover Journal topic
Climate of the Past An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
doi:10.5194/cp-2016-61
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
16 Jun 2016
Review status
A revision of this discussion paper is under review for the journal Climate of the Past (CP).
Postglacial fire history and interactions with vegetation and climate in southwestern Yunnan Province of China based on charcoal and pollen records
Xiayun Xiao1, Simon G. Haberle2, Ji Shen1, Bin Xue1, and Sumin Wang1 1State Key Laboratory of Lake Science and Environment, Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Nanjing 210008, China
2Department of Archaeology and Natural History, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capita l Territory 0200, Australia
Abstract. A high-resolution, continuous 18.5 ka-long (1 ka=1000 cal yr BP) macroscopic charcoal record from Qinghai Lake in southwestern Yunnan Province, China reveals the postglacial fire frequency and variability history. The results show that three periods with high fire frequency and intensity occurred during the periods 18.5–15.0 ka, 13.0–11.5 ka, and 4.3–~1.0 ka, respectively. This record was compared with the pollen record from the same core, and tentatively correlated with the regional climate proxy records with the aim to separate climate- from human-induced fire activity, and discuss vegetation-fire-climate interactions. The results suggest that fire was mainly controlled by climate before 4.3 ka and by combined action of climate and humans after 4.3 ka. Before 4.3 ka, high fire activity corresponded to cold and dry climatic conditions, while warm and humid climatic conditions brought infrequent and weak fires. Fire was an important disturbance factor and played an important role in forest dynamics around the study area. Vegetation responses to fire before 4.3 ka are not consistent with that after 4.3 ka, suggesting that human influence on vegetation and fire regimes may have become more prevalent after 4.3 ka. The correlations between fire activity and vegetation reveal that evergreen oaks and Alnus are flammable plants. Evergreen oaks are fire-tolerant taxa and Alnus is a fire-adapted taxon. The forests dominated by Lithocarpus/Castanopsis and/or tropical arbors are not easy to ignite, but Lithocarpus/Castanopsis and tropical arbors are fire-sensitive taxa in the study area.

Citation: Xiao, X., Haberle, S. G., Shen, J., Xue, B., and Wang, S.: Postglacial fire history and interactions with vegetation and climate in southwestern Yunnan Province of China based on charcoal and pollen records, Clim. Past Discuss., doi:10.5194/cp-2016-61, in review, 2016.
Xiayun Xiao et al.
Xiayun Xiao et al.
Xiayun Xiao et al.

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Short summary
Knowledge of the past fire activity is a key for making sustainable management policies for forest ecosystems. A high-resolution macroscopic charcoal record from southwestern China reveals the postglacial fire history. Combined with the regional climate records and vegetation histories, it is concluded that fire was mainly controlled by climate before 4.3 ka and by combined action of climate and humans after 4.3 ka, and the relationship between fire activity and vegetation were also examined.
Knowledge of the past fire activity is a key for making sustainable management policies for...
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