A signal-to-noise index to quantify the potential for peak detection in sediment-charcoal records

  • Kelly R
  • Higuera P
  • Barrett C
 et al. 
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Charcoal peaks in lake-sediment records are commonly used to reconstruct fire histories spanning thousands of years, but quantitative methods for evaluating the suitability of records for peak detection are largely lacking. We present a signal-to-noise index (SNI) that quantifies the separation of charcoal peaks (signal) from other variability in a record (noise). We validate the SNI with simulated and empirical charcoal records and show that an SNI > 3 consistently identifies records appropriate for peak detection. The SNI thus offers a means to evaluate the suitability of sediment-charcoal records for reconstructing local fires. MATLAB and R functions for calculating SNI are provided. © 2010.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Charcoal analysis
  • Fire history
  • Lake sediment
  • Paleoecology
  • Signal-to-noise index (SNI)

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  • Ryan F. Kelly

  • Philip E. Higuera

  • Carolyn M. Barrett

  • Feng Sheng Hu

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