QUAVIDA - Fire, Vegetation and Climate Change in Australasia
Synergies and Resource Base
Progress in Palaeodata Syntheses
QUAVIDA is a working group of the ARC-NZ Network for Vegetation Function and QUEST.
It's aim is to understand the interactions among vegetation structure and function, climate and fire regime during
the Late Quaternary in Australasia.
The past 70,000 years (70 ka) has seen major environmental changes in Australasia,
including alternations of exceptionally wet and exceptionally dry periods and large
variations in temperature and atmospheric CO2. Human occupation has also been a
substantial influence. Much of Australian vegetation is extremely fire-prone (and fire-adapted),
and fire management has been long and widely practised. Understanding future fire regimes
in a changing climate is important for the region, and will be facilitated by analyses based
on modelling and observations of past climates and environments.
Climate, fire regime, and vegetation structure interact, with one another and with
human activities. The purpose of this working group is to better understand these interactions,
by bringing together expertise in three rapidly progressing fields:
- Palaeoclimatic and palaeoecological reconstructions
A growing body of pollen and plant macrofossil assemblages from
well time-resolved, 14C-dated sediments has allowed the construction
of evidence-based biome maps for key times in the past.
Abundant data (e.g. charcoal records) document past changes in fire regimes,
and several independent palaeoclimate data sources have been developed.
- Dynamic Global Vegetation Models (DGVMs)
Recent work with the Lund-Potsdam-Jena (LPJ)
and Sheffield DGVMs has represented the major interactions between vegetation structure and the spread and
intensity of fire, including the influences of climate and human populations. The models have
been tested against fire data derived from ground observations and remote sensing.
- Palaeoclimate modelling
Major improvements in our understanding of how planetary-scale variations (e.g. in the
Earth's orbit, interacting with the northern ice sheets, sea ice, and atmospheric CO2
content) have shaped global and regional climatic patterns during the Late Quaternary have
arisen from advances in coupled climate modelling at a global scale, combined with syntheses
of the data on past environments.
This proposal assumes synergy with several activities that have already started.
Quaternary palaeoclimate modelling and data synthesis projects in
QUEST and the tri-national
will include global climate and coupled climate-vegetation simulations for key
periods during the past 125 ka (although QUEST and ORMEN analyses of these simulations
will centre on the northern extratropics). Comparable simulations, with multiple models,
are underway in Phase II of the international Palaeoclimate Modelling Intercomparison Project
(PMIP). The IGBP Fast Track Initiative
on Fire (website) is planning a working group in global reconstruction and modelling of fire regimes.
Syntheses of palaeoecological data are proceeding for different regions, e.g. the
Pan-Arctic Initiative (PAIN).
The proposed network will develop a comparable data synthesis for Australasia, engaging
regional expertise, with data base support provided by projects based at the
BRIDGE group in Bristol. The syntheses carried out
by the proposed working group will provide underpinning data on ecological, fire and climate
dynamics to help in understanding the spatial and temporal patterns of human disturbance,
the focus of the INQUA project on "The Great Arc of
Syntheses of palaeoecological data have been taxon-based or (recently) used a coarse
biome classification. This working group will develop an improved, functional approach
based on plant morphological traits, such as plant height and form, leaf size and
toughness, resprouting ability, wood anatomy, bark characteristics etc. with particular
emphasis on traits conferring either adaptation or aversion to fire. Independent approaches
including modelling will be used to construct best estimates of palaeoclimates (and human
populations where applicable), and vegetation functional shifts will be compared with
fire-DGVM simulations driven by these estimates. As all of the approaches are relatively
new and the models not perfected, the approach will be iterative, with improved understanding
informing further DGVM development
- An improved functional classification of Australasian plants based on traits indicating
relationships to climate and fire. This classification will be used in mapping palaeodata, and will
also form the basis for improvements to the plant functional type classification used in DGVMs
- Multi-proxy maps showing millennial-scale changes in vegetation distribution and fire regime
for Australasia for ca the last 70,000 years.
- An overview paper describing the reconstructed changes in vegetation distribution and fire regime.
(This could be accompanied by a special issue of e.g. Quaternary International, comprising papers describing
individual data sources and vegetation history of specific regions)
- A sequence of "time slice" simulations with the fire-enabled version of the LPJ DGVM, showing the response
of fire regime and vegetation to simulated changes in climate
- A paper comparing the simulated and observed changes in fire regimes and vegetation patterns, and focusing
on elucidating the mechanisms underlying observed millennial-scale changes and the degree to which state-of-the-art
models predict observed changes in a reliable way
- A "summary for policy makers", including material produced by this working group, of the state of knowledge as
regards the interactions among vegetation structure and function, climate, fire and human activities; and the
implications for predicting future changes in fire regimes in the region.
The working group will bring together scientists from several disciplines.
This working-mode has been successfully employed to develop synthetic
palaeoenvironmental data sets and data-model comparisons for other regions.
Four workshops (4 days each) are proposed, entitled "Fire, Vegetation and Climate Change in Australasia", to be held over a two-year period:
- Workshop 1: 20-23 February 2007, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
Aim: to review the status of palaeoenvironmental records and databases
Postmeeting work commitments (members only)
Provisional PFT scheme and PFT to biome scheme (members only)
- Workshop 2: 16-19 July 2007, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
Aim: to produce a new trait-based classification of Australasian plants and
determine a working list of plant functional types to be used in subsequent analysis.
Allocating taxa to PFTs
PFTs - draft allocations
PFT to biomes
- Workshop 3: 21-25 July 2008, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
Aim: to focus on reconstructing changing vegetation patterns and fire regimes.
- Day 1: Present and discuss biomisation outputs, outline of proposed reconstruction paper, identification of areas with conjunctions of other data sources where refinement of interpretations might be possible
- Day 2: Workshop on interpretation of modern pollen rain and surface sample studies. Aim to devise rules for interpretation in a format that might be incorporated formally in reconstructions
- Day 3: Writing sections of proposed paper
- Day 4: Present and discuss model runs, comparison with reconstructions; writing continued
- Day 5: Planning next model runs and next steps in data analysis, identifying requirements for next meeting in the context for next set of products
- Workshop 4
Aim: to compare reconstructed and simulated patterns of vegetation and fire, and assess
Expertise: palaeodata synthesis, palaeoclimate modeling, data-model comparisons
Role: Co-coordinator, liaison with international projects including
Expertise: Australian palaeovegetation records, palaeoecology
Role: Co-coordinator, liaison with INQUA
Expertise: ecology, biogeography, isotopic data on past vegetation
Role: Fire-rainforest relationships
Expertise: fire ecology and fire traits
Role: PFT classification
Expertise: climate modelling
Role: coupled climate-vegetation modelling
Role: creation of terrestrial carbon-isotopes database as part of QUEST-Deglaciation project
Expertise: fire ecology, carbon cycle, vegetation modelling, isotopes
Role: Fire ecology, link to Bushfires CRC
Expertise: Palaeovegetation and palaeoenvironmental records
Role: responsibility for synthesis of palaeo-records from PNG, Indonesia
Expertise: palaeofire records
Role: E-SS, synthesis of charcoal records of palaeofires, liaison with IGBP Fire FTI
Expertise: NZ palaeoenvironments
Role: ES-S, Synthesis of New Zealand palaeodata
Expertise: plant macrofossils from stickrat middens and palaeovegetation
Role: ES-S, synthesis of stickrat data
Expertise: vegetation modeling, carbon cycle
Role: liaison with QUEST and the
Earth System Atlas
Expertise: palaeoenvironmental data, databases
Role: Research Assistant linking BRIDGE,
QUEST and QUAVIDA
Expertise: ecology, plant functional traits and fire modelling
Role: E-SS, plant trait-fire relationships
Expertise: archaeology, phytoliths and vegetation reconstruction
Role: ES-S, synthesis of phytolith data
Expertise: pollen and vegetation reconstruction
Role: synthesis of NZ pollen data
Expertise: palaeoclimate modelling and analysis
Role: Research Assistant linking BRIDGE,
QUEST and QUAVIDA
SYNERGIES AND RESOURCE BASE
The working group will make use of (and extend) existing pollen databases for the region,
specifically the BIOME 6000 SEAPAC database,
South-Eastern Australian Pollen Database,
and INDOPAC Pollen Database. It will capitalise on the database of charcoal records from Australasia being created as part of the
IGBP Fire Fast-Track- Initiative. Support for new database construction e.g. for stickrats, phytoliths) will be provided by
BRIDGE (Bristol). Climate simulations will
be obtained from the QUEST and ORMEN projects.
DGVM simulations will be run as part of recently funded EU project (FIRE-PARADOX).
PROGRESS IN PALAEODATA SYNTHESES
- Carbon Isotope Workbook and User Guide
- Charcoal Workbook and User Guide
- Phytolith Workbook and User Guide
- Plant Macrofossil Workbook and User Guide
- Pollen Workbook and User Guide
It would be helpful to use the same taxonomic nomenclature in the databases.
It is difficult to determine what this taxon list will look like. The files below
give the currently-accepted list of plant genera for Australia, the currently-accepted
list of plant species for NZ and a taxonomically-corrected version of the SEAPAC taxon
list from BIOME6000. These lists should be used to verify the taxonomy used in individual
data sets, and you can cut-and-paste names from these lists into individual data-set files.
Database Sites (updated 17 March 2008)
- Aussie Plant Genera
- NZ species
- SEAPAC taxon list
Download inventory of sites