Uncertainty quantification and propagation for projections of extremes in monthly area burned under climate change: A case study in the coastal plain of Georgia, USA.
|Authors:||Adam Terando, Brian Reich, Krishna Pacifici, Jennifer Costanza, Alexa McKerrow, Jaime Collazo|
|Station:||Southern Research Station|
|Source:||In: Riley K, Webley P, Thompson M, editors. Natural Hazard Uncertainty Assessment: Modeling and Decision Support, Geophysical Monograph 223. John Wiley & Sons.|
Human‐caused climate change is predicted to affect the frequency of hazard linked extremes. Unusually large wildfires, individually or expressed as area burned over time, are a type of extreme event that is constrained by climate and can be a hazard to society but also an important ecological disturbance. Here we project changes in the frequency of extreme monthly area burned by wildfires for the end of the 21st century for a wildfire‐prone region in the southeast United States. Predicting changes in area burned is complicated by the large and varied uncertainties in how the climate will change and in the models used to predict those changes. We characterize and quantify multiple sources of uncertainty and propagate the expanded prediction intervals of future area burned. We find nontrivial probabilities for an increasing number of extreme wildfire months for the period 2070–2099 (95% projection interval of 5 fewer to 28 more extreme fire months for a high fossil‐fuel emissions scenario), resulting from the warmer climate, but also due to the inherent uncertainty when dealing with extreme events. Our approach illustrates that while accounting for multiple sources of uncertainty in global change science problems is a difficult task, it will be necessary in order to properly assess the risk of increased exposure to these society‐relevant events.