Paleo fires from high-alpine ice cores - FrozenFire

"FrozenFire" is part of the SNF-Sinergia project "Paleo fires from high-alpine ice cores" an integrated research project aiming to improve our understanding of biomass burning trends in the last millennia (broken fire hockey stick hypothesis) and the complex linkages between climate, land use, fire and vegetation at global scale. Our project "FrozenFire" will reconstruct regional paleo fire and pollution histories from multi-proxy high-alpine ice core records in four key regions (Central Europe, Southern Siberia, tropical Amazonia, and the Arctic, Fig. 1) by using microscopic charcoal and soots. Moreover, we will reconstruct vegetation dynamics and agricultural activity using pollen and spores, which are also preserved in the ice cores.

We focus on the past 2000 years, the period that experienced important climatic changes and an increasing globalization of economy.  We will use existing vegetation and fire records from sedimentary sites stored in databases to assess the spatio-temporal relevance of the ice-core inferred vegetation, land use and fire dynamics. To advance the understanding of the linkage between climate, fire, vegetation and land use dynamics, the palynological ice results will be compared with other fire proxies (e.g. Black Carbon, levoglucosan) and  paleoclimatic results from the same ice cores (e.g. oxygen isotopes), remote sensing products and

To our knowledge “Paleo fires from high-alpine ice cores” is the first interdisciplinary ice-core project on fire history.



This project is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF)



Sandra Brügger, Daniele Colombaroli, Erika Gobet and Willy Tinner


Margit Schwikowski, Michael Sigl and Dimitri Osmont (Paul Scherrer Institut Villigen), Ulrike Lohmann, Isabelle Bey and Anina Gilgen (ETH Zürich), Stefan Wunderle and Helga Weber (GIUB, Universität Bern)