Identifying past fire regimes throughout the Holocene in Ireland using new and established methods of charcoal analysis

Donna Hawthorne*, Fraser J. G. Mitchell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Globally, in recent years there has been an increase in the scale, intensity and level of destruction caused by wildfires. This can be seen in Ireland where significant changes in vegetation, land use, agriculture and policy, have promoted an increase in fires in the Irish landscape. This study looks at wildfire throughout the Holocene and draws on lacustrine charcoal records from seven study sites spread across Ireland, to reconstruct the past fire regimes recorded at each site. This work utilises new and accepted methods of fire history reconstruction to provide a recommended analytical procedure for statistical charcoal analysis. Digital charcoal counting was used and fire regime reconstructions carried out via the Char Analysis programme. To verify this record new techniques are employed; an Ensemble-Member strategy to remove the objectivity associated with parameter selection, a Signal to Noise Index to determine if the charcoal record is appropriate for peak detection, and a charcoal peak screening procedure to validate the identified fire events based on bootstrapped samples. This analysis represents the first study of its kind in Ireland, examining the past record of fire on a multi-site and paleoecological timescale, and will provide a baseline level of data which can be built on in the future when the frequency and intensity of fire is predicted to increase. (C) 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-53
Number of pages9
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Early online date11 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016


  • Charcoal
  • Ireland
  • Fire
  • Methods
  • Holocene


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