, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 121-137

Comparison of the Sensitivity of Landscape-fire-succession Models to Variation in Terrain, Fuel Pattern, Climate and Weather

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to compare the sensitivity of modelled area burned to environmental factors across a range of independently-developed landscape-fire-succession models. The sensitivity of area burned to variation in four factors, namely terrain (flat, undulating and mountainous), fuel pattern (finely and coarsely clumped), climate (observed, warmer & wetter, and warmer & drier) and weather (year-to-year variability) was determined for four existing landscape-fire-succession models (EMBYR, FIRESCAPE, LANDSUM and SEM-LAND) and a new model implemented in the LAMOS modelling shell (LAMOS(DS)). Sensitivity was measured as the variance in area burned explained by each of the four factors, and all of the interactions amongst them, in a standard generalised linear modelling analysis. Modelled area burned was most sensitive to climate and variation in weather, with four models sensitive to each of these factors and three models sensitive to their interaction. Models generally exhibited a trend of increasing area burned from observed, through warmer and wetter, to warmer and drier climates with a 23-fold increase in area burned, on average, from the observed to the warmer, drier climate. Area burned was sensitive to terrain for FIRESCAPE and fuel pattern for EMBYR. These results demonstrate that the models are generally more sensitive to variation in climate and weather as compared with terrain complexity and fuel pattern, although the sensitivity to these latter factors in a small number of models demonstrates the importance of representing key processes. The models that represented fire ignition and spread in a relatively complex fashion were more sensitive to changes in all four factors because they explicitly simulate the processes that link these factors to area burned.

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