Canadian Forest Service Publications

Projected changes in daily fire spread across Canada over the next century. 2017. Wang, X.; Parisien, M.-A.; Taylor, S.W.; Candau, J.-N.; Stralberg, D.; Marshall, G.; Little, J.M.; Flannigan, M.D. Special Issue of Environmental Research Letters 12(2):10.1088/1748-9326/aa5835.

Year: 2017

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 38289

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1088/1748-9326/aa5835

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Plain Language Summary

In the face of climate change, predicting and understanding future fire regimes across Canada is a high priority for forest research and management. Due in large part to the difficulties in obtaining future daily fire weather projections, one of the major challenges in predicting future fire activity is to estimate how much of the change in weather potential could translate into on-the-ground fire spread. As a result, past studies have used monthly, annual, or multi-decadal weather projections to predict future fires, thereby sacrificing information relevant to individual fire spread. Using climate projections from the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5), historical weather observations, MODIS fire detection data, and the national fire database of Canada, this study has investigated potential changes in the number of active burning days of wildfires by relating ‘spread days’ to patterns of daily fire-conducive weather. Results suggest that climate change over the next century may have significant impacts on fire spread days in almost all parts of Canada’s forested landmass; the number of fire spread days could experience a 2-to-3-fold increase under a high CO2 forcing scenario in eastern Canada, and a more than 50% increase in western Canada, where the fire potential is already high. The change in future fire spread is critical in understanding fire regime changes, but is also imminently relevant to fire management operations and in fire risk mitigation.