Wildfires are keystone components of natural disturbance regimes that maintain ecosystem structure and functions, such as the hydrological cycle, in many parts of the world. Consequently, critical surface freshwater resources can be exposed to post-fire effects disrupting their quantity, quality and regularity. Although well studied at the local scale, the potential extent of these effects has not been examined at the global scale. We take the first step toward a global assessment of the wildfire water risk (WWR) by presenting a spatially explicit index of exposure. Several variables related to fire activity and water availability were identified and normalized for use as exposure indicators. Additive aggregation of those indicators was then carried out according to their individual weight. The resulting index shows the greatest exposure risk in the tropical wet and dry forests. Intermediate exposure is indicated in mountain ranges and dry shrublands, whereas the lowest index scores are mostly associated with high latitudes. We believe that such an approach can provide important insights for water security by guiding global freshwater resource preservation.
wildfire water risk
water resources exposure
Robinne, Francois-Nicolas; Miller, Carol; Parisien, Marc-Andre; Emelko, Monica B.; Bladon, Kevin D.; Silins, Uldis; Flannigan, Mike. 2016. A global index for mapping the exposure of water resources to wildfire. Forests. 7(1): 22.