Canadian Forest Service Publications

Global wildland fire season severity in the 21st century. 2012. Flannigan, M.; Cantin, A.S.; de Groot, W.J.; Wotton, M.; Newbery, A.; Gowman, L.M. Forest Ecology and Management. 294:54-61.

Year: 2012

Available from: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 34645

Language: English

CFS Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2012.10.022

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Abstract

We used Cumulative Severity Rating (CSR), a weather-based fire danger metric, to examine the potential influence of climate change on global fire season severity. The potential influence of climate change on fire season length was also addressed. We used three General Circulation Models (GCMs) and three emission scenarios to calculate the CSR and fire season length for mid-century (2041–2050) and late century (2091–2100) relative to the 1971–2000 baseline. Our results suggest significant increases in the CSR for all models and scenarios. Increases were greatest (more than three times greater than the baseline CSR) for the Northern Hemisphere at the end of the century. Fire season length changes were also most pronounced at the end of the century and for northern high latitudes where fire season lengths will increase by more than 20 days per year. The implications from this study are that fire seasons will be more severe in future and that conventional fire management approaches may no longer be effective.

Plain Language Summary

We examined the potential influence of climate change on global fire season severity using the Cumulative Severity Rating (CSR), a weather-based fire danger metric. We used three General Circulation Models and three emission scenarios to predict fire severity and fire season length for mid-century (2041–2050) and late century (2091–2100) relative to the 1971–2000 baseline. Our results suggest significant increases in fire severity globally for all models and scenarios, but particularly for the Northern Hemisphere by the end of the century, where CSR would be more than three times the baseline rating. The length of the fire season is also predicted to increase. In northern high latitudes we expect an increase of more than 20 days per year by the end of the century. The implications from this study are that fire seasons will be more severe in future and that fire management will be even more challenging.

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