The Reading Palaeofire Database: an expanded global resource to document changes in fire regimes from sedimentary charcoal records


Sandy P. Harrison, University of Reading
Roberto Villegas-Diaz, University of Reading
Esmeralda Cruz-Silva, University of Reading
Daniel Gallagher, Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, Environment and Society
David Kesner, University of Reading
Paul Lincoln, University of Reading
Yicheng Shen, University of Reading
Luke Sweeney, University of Reading
Daniele Colombaroli, Leverhulme Centre for Wildfires, Environment and Society
Adam Ali, Université de Montpellier
Chéïma Barhoumi, Albrecht-von-Haller-Institut für Pflanzenwissenschaften
Yves Bergeron, Universite du Quebec en Abitibi-Temiscamingue
Tatiana Blyakharchuk, Institute of Monitoring of Climatic and Ecological Systems Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Přemysl Bobek, Institute of Botany of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
Richard Bradshaw, University of Liverpool
Jennifer L. Clear, Liverpool Hope University
Sambor Czerwiński, Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Anne Laure Daniau, Université de Bordeaux
John Dodson, Chinese Academy of Sciences
Kevin J. Edwards, University of Aberdeen
Mary E. Edwards, University of Southampton
Angelica Feurdean, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
David Foster, Harvard Forest
Konrad Gajewski, University of Ottawa
Mariusz Gałka, University of Lodz
Michelle Garneau, Université du Québec à Montréal
Thomas Giesecke, Universiteit Utrecht
Graciela Gil Romera, Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología
Martin P. Girardin, Canadian Forest Service
Dana Hoefer, Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung

Publication Name

Earth System Science Data


Sedimentary charcoal records are widely used to reconstruct regional changes in fire regimes through time in the geological past. Existing global compilations are not geographically comprehensive and do not provide consistent metadata for all sites. Furthermore, the age models provided for these records are not harmonised and many are based on older calibrations of the radiocarbon ages. These issues limit the use of existing compilations for research into past fire regimes. Here, we present an expanded database of charcoal records, accompanied by new age models based on recalibration of radiocarbon ages using IntCal20 and Bayesian age-modelling software. We document the structure and contents of the database, the construction of the age models, and the quality control measures applied. We also record the expansion of geographical coverage relative to previous charcoal compilations and the expansion of metadata that can be used to inform analyses. This first version of the Reading Palaeofire Database contains 1676 records (entities) from 1480 sites worldwide. The database (RPDv1b - Harrison et al., 2021) is available at 10.17864/1947.000345.

Open Access Status

This publication may be available as open access





First Page


Last Page


Funding Number

RE-FIRE 12.286

Funding Sponsor




Link to publisher version (DOI)