Climate Change Presents Increased Potential for Very Large Fires in the Contiguous United States. Barbero, R.; Abatzoglou, J. T.; Larkin, N. K.; Kolden, C. A.; and Stocks, B. 24(7):892–899.
Climate Change Presents Increased Potential for Very Large Fires in the Contiguous United States [link]Paper  doi  abstract   bibtex   
Very 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. [Excerpt: Data and methods] Climate projections were obtained from 17 global climate models (GCMs) using historical forcing experiments from 1971 to 2000 and Representative Concentration Pathways 8.5 (RCP8.5) forcing experiments from 2041 to 2070. The 17 GCMs comprised all CMIP5 models that contained daily output for both historical and RCP8.5 experiments for all variables required to compute fire danger measurements. We chose to focus on a single scenario (RCP8.5) as natural climate variability and inter-model variability are the dominant contributors to uncertainty in climate projections at such lead times and spatial scales [...]. Following Barbero et al. (2014a), we calculated a set of predictors with established links to VLFs including [::] meteorological variables (i.e. temperature, relative humidity, precipitation), [::] the Palmer Drought Severity Index, [::] annual climatic water deficit and fire danger indices from the National Fire Danger Rating System (Deeming et al. 1977), [::] the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System (Van Wagner 1987), and [::] the Fosberg Fire Weather Index (Fosberg 1978). [] These variables reflect different timescales that are linked to VLF occurrence across ecoregions [...]. Climate-VLF relationships adhere to established interannual climate-fire relationships [...] in climate-limited and fuel-limited systems while also incorporating shorter timescales that are more directly linked to fire behaviour. [] [...]
@article{barberoClimateChangePresents2015,
  title = {Climate Change Presents Increased Potential for Very Large Fires in the Contiguous {{United States}}},
  author = {Barbero, R. and Abatzoglou, J. T. and Larkin, N. K. and Kolden, C. A. and Stocks, B.},
  date = {2015},
  journaltitle = {International Journal of Wildland Fire},
  volume = {24},
  pages = {892--899},
  issn = {1049-8001},
  doi = {10.1071/wf15083},
  url = {https://doi.org/10.1071/wf15083},
  abstract = {Very 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.

[Excerpt: Data and methods] Climate projections were obtained from 17 global climate models (GCMs) using historical forcing experiments from 1971 to 2000 and Representative Concentration Pathways 8.5 (RCP8.5) forcing experiments from 2041 to 2070. The 17 GCMs comprised all CMIP5 models that contained daily output for both historical and RCP8.5 experiments for all variables required to compute fire danger measurements. We chose to focus on a single scenario (RCP8.5) as natural climate variability and inter-model variability are the dominant contributors to uncertainty in climate projections at such lead times and spatial scales [...]. Following Barbero et al. (2014a), we calculated a set of predictors with established links to VLFs including

[::] meteorological variables (i.e. temperature, relative humidity, precipitation), 

[::] the Palmer Drought Severity Index, 

[::] annual climatic water deficit and fire danger indices from the National Fire Danger Rating System (Deeming et al. 1977), 

[::] the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System (Van Wagner 1987), and 

[::] the Fosberg Fire Weather Index (Fosberg 1978). 

[] These variables reflect different timescales that are linked to VLF occurrence across ecoregions [...]. Climate-VLF relationships adhere to established interannual climate-fire relationships [...] in climate-limited and fuel-limited systems while also incorporating shorter timescales that are more directly linked to fire behaviour.

[] [...]},
  keywords = {*imported-from-citeulike-INRMM,~INRMM-MiD:c-14160196,~to-add-doi-URL,climate-change,droughts,fire-weather-index,national-fire-danger-rating-system,rcp85,united-states,wildfires},
  number = {7}
}
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