Canadian Forest Service Publications

Climate change and the future fire environment in Ontario: Fire occurrence and fire management impacts in Ontario under a changing climate. 2005. Wotton,M.;Logan,K.; McAlpine, R. Climate Change Research Report CCRR-01.(OMNR) 23p.

Year: 2005

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 34351

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

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Fire weather and fuel moisture scenarios from General Circulation Model (GCM) climate projections were used with forest fire occurrence models and a level of protection analysis system (LEOPARDS) to estimate the impacts of climate change on the fire management system in Ontario. GCM climate scenarios show that the mean summertime temperature in Ontario will increase by 1 to 1.5°C by 2040 and by about 4 to 5°C by 2090. This change in temperature will be accompanied by relatively small changes in regional precipitation. These changes in temperature and precipitation will lead to a drier forest floor, resulting in an estimated 24% increase in the number of lightning fires by 2040 and an 80% increase by 2090. This estimated increase in the number of lightning fires is conservative because it does not include any changes in lightning activity over current levels. Expected increases in lightning strike activity will add to the increased occurrence of lightning-caused fires. The numbers of people-caused fires occurring in Ontario are expected to increase by at least 7% in 2040 and 26% in 2090, however these are also considered conservative estimates because changing patterns in frequency and amount of rainfall, changing demographic patterns, and landscape change were not addressed in this study. Overall, the total number of fires occurring in Ontario’s fire management area is expected to increase 15% by 2040 and 50% by the end of the century. These increases in fire activity and the heightened fire behaviour potential caused by drier fuels lead to an estimated 30% increase in the number of fires that escape initial attack by the year 2040 and an 80% increase by 2100 given current resource levels. The increased fire load is expected to increase the cost of fire management in the province 16% by the year 2040 and 54% by the year 2090 over year 2000 costs, exclusive of inflation or other factors.