Climatic Change

, Volume 72, Issue 1, pp 1-16

First online:

Future Area Burned in Canada

  • M. D. FlanniganAffiliated withCanadian Forest Service, Great Lakes Forestry Centre Email author 
  • , K. A. LoganAffiliated withCanadian Forest Service, Great Lakes Forestry Centre
  • , B. D. AmiroAffiliated withCanadian Forest Service
  • , W. R. SkinnerAffiliated withMeteorological Service of Canada
  • , B. J. StocksAffiliated withCanadian Forest Service, Great Lakes Forestry Centre

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Historical relationships between weather, the Canadian fire weather index (FWI) system components and area burned in Canadian ecozones were analysed on a monthly basis in tandem with output from the Canadian and the Hadley Centre GCMs to project future area burned. Temperature and fuel moisture were the variables best related to historical monthly area burned with 36–64% of the variance explained depending on ecozone. Our results suggest significant increases in future area burned although there are large regional variations in fire activity. This was especially true for the Canadian GCM where some ecozones show little change in area burned, however area burned was not projected to decrease in any of the ecozones modelled. On average, area burned in Canada is projected to increase by 74–118% by the end of this century in a 3 × CO2 scenario. These estimates do not explicitly take into account any changes in vegetation, ignitions, fire season length, and human activity (fire management and land use activities) that may influence area burned. However, the estimated increases in area burned would have significant ecological, economic and social impacts for Canada.