Announcing the release of the FLARE White Paper on Fire Science

As fire events become more intense and frequent, the urgency for effective and proactive fire science grows. The FLARE (Fire science Learning AcRoss the Earth System) Working Group, consisting of scientists from 14 countries and various disciplines, has produced a white paper to address the complexities of fire science from a holistic perspective. This paper compiles discussions from a workshop – organized by the Surface Ocean-Lower Atmosphere Study (SOLAS) and supported by the European Space Agency-Future Earth Joint Programme, PAGES, and BIOS – held in September 2023 at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Science. It summarizes the current state of fire science and identifies future challenges. Igniting Progress: Outcomes from the FLARE workshop and 3 challenges for the future of transdisciplinary Fire Science “ is now available for download.


Key highlights

  1. Transdisciplinary collaboration: The FLARE initiative highlights the importance of collaboration across different fields to understand and address the challenges of fire science. This approach is particularly crucial for fire science as it crosses academic disciplines and societal actions, with Earth Observation (EO) playing a significant role.
  2. Three main challenges:
    • Fire and the Carbon Cycle: understanding how fire’s carbon release, ecological recovery, climate changes, ocean biology, and ice melt interact and affect the Earth’s carbon balance.
    • Rapid response to wildfire events: developing tools for timely and responsive answers to critical questions during extreme fire events and providing annual reports on key policy and media questions.
    • Implications of fire: exploring how fires affect marginalized and underrepresented communities, emphasizing Indigenous populations and environmental justice.
  3. Communication and education: The paper notes the need for better communication between scientific disciplines and between science and society to enhance understanding and management of fire-related issues.
  4. Workshop insights: The paper reflects on discussions covering satellite data integration, fieldwork, laboratory experiments, and social science research, with a focus on the contributions of early career researchers (including ESA fellows) and fire managers.


Relationships between burned area and a selection of fire drivers, reproduced from Jones et al. (18). Plots show the Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient between a) the total burned area (BA) in the fire seasons between 2001-2019 (MODIS satellite observations) and the mean fire weather index (FWI)38 in the fire season (top panel). b) monthly lightning flash density39 and burned area (middle panel). c) population40 and annual burned area 2001-2019, based on sub-grid variability in population density and burned area (bottom panel).


Douglas Hamilton, assistant professor at North Carolina State University and lead researcher of the FLARE working group, states, “If we want to improve the assessment of future fire impacts on people and the planet, we need to start with a better understanding of how climate, land cover changes, and human land management practices drive fire distribution and severity.”

Chantelle Burton from the Met Office UK emphasizes, “Wildfires can significantly affect the global carbon cycle. Fires in ecosystems that store large amounts of carbon, such as peatlands, permafrost, and forests, can release vast quantities of CO2 into the atmosphere. Incorporating accurate fire-related carbon fluxes into Earth System Models is crucial for predicting climate outcomes.”

Stephen Plummer from ESA, who facilitated the workshop, noted the unique value of FLARE in gathering of networks of scientists working beyond traditional disciplinary boundaries, and  observed how EO could contribute to understanding fire impacts by providing information on different aspects of fire and its life cycle.


Access the White Paper

The white paper is available under a CC BY-ND license, allowing users to copy and distribute the material in its unadapted form with appropriate attribution to FLARE. Download the FLARE White Paper here.

The FLARE working group continues its efforts beyond the workshop, with the white paper now accepted for presentation at the ICDC11 conference (11th International Carbon Dioxide Conference). This acceptance underscores the growing research interest in the group’s work from the global fire science community.





The Fire science Learning AcRoss the Earth System (FLARE) Working Group was launched after a Future Earth COP27 side event on fire. The group aims to advance fire science through a transdisciplinary approach. By bringing together diverse expertise, FLARE seeks to promote integrated research addressing the complex and interconnected challenges posed by fire in the Earth System.

White paper Citation

Hamilton, D. S., et al., (2024). Igniting Progress: Outcomes from the FLARE workshop and three challenges for the future of transdisciplinary fire science. Zenodo.