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Climate change presents increased potential for very large fires in the contiguous United StatesAuthor(s): R. Barbero; J. T. Abatzoglou; Sim Larkin; C. A. Kolden; B. Stocks
Source: International Journal of Wildland Fire
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
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DescriptionVery large fires (VLFs) have important implications for communities, ecosystems, air quality and fire suppression expenditures. VLFs over the contiguous US have been strongly linked with meteorological and climatological variability. Building on prior modelling of VLFs (>5000 ha), an ensemble of 17 global climate models were statistically downscaled over the US for climate experiments covering the historic and mid-21st-century periods to estimate potential changes in VLF occurrence arising from anthropogenic climate change. Increased VLF potential was projected across most historically fire-prone regions, with the largest absolute increase in the intermountain West and Northern California. Complementary to modelled increases in VLF potential were changes in the seasonality of atmospheric conditions conducive to VLFs, including an earlier onset across the southern US and more symmetric seasonal extension in the northern regions. These projections provide insights into regional and seasonal distribution of VLF potential under a changing climate, and serve as a basis for future strategic and tactical fire management options.
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CitationBarbero, R.; Abatzoglou, J. T.; Larkin, N. K.; Kolden, C. A.; Stocks, B. 2015. Climate change presents increased potential for very large fires in the contiguous United States. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 24(7):892–899.
Keywordsclimate-fire models, climate variability, fire risks, megafires
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