Canadian Forest Service Publications

Preceding Fall Drought Conditions and Overwinter Precipitation Effects on Spring Wildland Fire Activity in Canada. Hanes, C., Wotton, M., Woolford, D.G., Martell, D.L., Flannigan, B.M., Fire (2020) 3, 24

Year: 2020

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 40658

Language: English

Availability: PDF (download)

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Plain Language Summary

Spring fire activity has increased in parts of Canada, particularly in the west, prompting fire managers to seek indicators of potential activity before the fire season starts. The overwintering adjustment of the Canadian Fire Weather Index System’s Drought Code (DC) is a method to adjust and carry-over the previous season’s drought conditions into the spring and potentially point to what lies ahead. The occurrence of spring fires is most strongly influenced by moisture in fine fuels. We used a zero-inflated Poisson regression model to examine the impact of the previous end of season Drought Code (DCf) and overwinter precipitation (Pow) while accounting for the day-to-day variation in fine fuel moisture that drives ignition potential. Impacts of DCf and Pow on area burned and fire suppression effectiveness were also explored using linear and logistic regression frameworks. Eight fire management regions across the boreal forests were analyzed using data from 1979 to 2018. For the majority of regions, drier fall conditions resulted in more human-caused spring fires, but not in greater area burned or reduced suppression effectiveness. The influence of Pow was much more variable pointing to the conclusion that Pow alone is not a good indicator of spring drought conditions