Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 1395–1404 | Cite as

Two thresholds determine climatic control of forest fire size in Europe and northern Africa

Original Article

Abstract

Fire weather indices predict fire extent from meteorological conditions assuming a monotonic function; this approach is frequently used to predict future fire patterns under climate change scenarios using linear extrapolation. However, the relationship between weather and fire extent may potentially depend on the existence of fuel moisture content thresholds above which this relationship changes dramatically, challenging this statistical approach. Here, we combine the continuous and the threshold approaches to analyze satellite-detected fires in Europe during 2001–2010 in relation to meteorological conditions, showing that fire size response to decreasing fuel moisture content follows a ramp function, i.e., with two plateaus separated by a phase of monotonic increase. This study confirms that at continental and high-resolution temporal scales, large fires are very unlikely to occur under moist conditions, but it also reveals that fire size stops to be controlled by fuel moisture content above a given threshold of dryness. Thus, fuel moisture content control only applies when fire is not limited by other factors such as fuel load, as large fires were virtually absent during the considered period in dry regions with less than 500 mm of average annual precipitation, i.e., low-productive areas where fuel amount would be scarce and discontinuous. In regions with sufficient fuel, other factors such as fire suppression or fuel discontinuity can impede large fires even under very dry weather conditions. These findings are relevant under current climatic trends in which the fire season length, in terms of number of days with drought code values above the observed thresholds (break points), is increasing in many parts of the Mediterranean, while it is decreasing in eastern Europe and remains unchanged in central Europe.

Keywords

Fire size Remote sensing Threshold Ramp function Fire weather 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This study was supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (project MONTES, Consolider-Ingenio 2010) and the Generalitat de Catalunya (AGAUR, SGR2009-247).

Supplementary material

10113_2013_583_MOESM1_ESM.docx (43.7 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 44772 kb)

References

  1. Alexander ME, Cruz MG (2013) Limitations on the accuracy of model predictions of wildland fire behaviour: a state-of-the-knowledge overview. For Chron 89:372–383CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Amiro BD, Logan K, Wotton B, Flannigan M, Todd J, Stocks B, Martell D (2005) Fire weather index system components for large fires in the Canadian boreal forest. Int J Wildland Fire 13:391–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bachelet D, Lenihan JM, Daly C, Neilson RP (2000) Interactions between fire, grazing and climate change at wind cave national park, SD. Ecol Model 134:229–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bajocco S, Ricotta C (2008) Evidence of selective burning in Sardinia (Italy): which land-cover classes do wildfires prefer? Landsc Ecol 23:241–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Belward AS, Estes JE, Kline KD (1999) The IGBP-DIS global 1-km landcover data set DISCover: a project overview. Photogram Eng Remote Sens 65:1013–1020Google Scholar
  6. Bergeron Y, Flannigan M, Gauthier S, Leduc A, Lefort P (2004) Past, current and future fire frequency in the Canadian boreal forest: implications for sustainable forest management. Ambio 33:356–360Google Scholar
  7. Beverly JL, Wotton BM (2007) Modelling the probability of sustained flaming: predictive value of fire weather index components compared with observations of site weather and fuel moisture conditions. Int J Wildland Fire 16:161–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Boulanger Y, Gauthier S, Gray DR, Le Goff H, Lefort P, Morissette J (2013) Fire regime zonation under current and future climate over eastern Canada. Ecol Appl 23:904–923CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bradstock RA (2010) A biogeographic model of fire regimes in Australia: current and future implications. Global Ecol Biogeogr 19:145–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Brotons L, Aquilué N, de Cáceres M, Fortin M, Fall A (2013) How fire history, fire suppression practices and climate change affect wildfire regimes in Mediterranean landscapes. PLoS ONE 8:e62392CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Brown TJ, Hall BL, Westerling AL (2004) The impact of twenty-first century climate change on wildland fire danger in the western United States: an applications perspective. Clim Change 62:365–388CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Carvalho A, Flannigan MD, Logan K, Miranda AI, Borrego C (2008) Fire activity in Portugal and its relationship to weather and the Canadian fire weather index system. Int J Wildland Fire 17:328–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Carvalho A, Flannigan M, Logan K, Gowman L, Miranda A, Borrego C (2010) The impact of spatial resolution on area burned and fire occurrence projections in Portugal under climate change. Clim Change 98:177–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Carvalho AC, Carvalho A, Martins H, Marques C, Rocha A, Borrego C, Viegas DX, Miranda AI (2011) Fire weather risk assessment under climate change using a dynamical downscaling approach. Environ Modell Softw 26:1123–1133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Chuvieco E (2008) Satellite Observation of Biomass Burning. In: Chuvieco E (ed) Earth Observation of Global Change. Springer, Netherlands, pp 109–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dimitrakopoulos AP, Vlahou M, Anagnostopoulou CG, Mitsopoulos I (2011) Impact of drought on wildland fires in Greece: implications of climatic change? Clim Change 109:331–347CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. FAO (2007) Fire management global assessment 2006. A thematic study prepared in the framework of the Global Forest Resources Assessment 2005. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, RomeGoogle Scholar
  18. Fernandes PM, Botelho HS (2003) A review of prescribed burning effectiveness in fire hazard reduction. Int J Wildland Fire 12:117–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Flannigan MD, Stocks BJ, Wotton BM (2000) Climate change and forest fires. Sci Total Environ 262:221–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Flannigan M, Logan K, Amiro B, Skinner W, Stocks B (2005) Future area burned in Canada. Clim Change 72:1–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Girardin MP, Mudelsee M (2008) Past and future changes in Canadian boreal wildfire activity. Ecol Appl 18:391–406CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hantson S, Padilla M, Corti D, Chuvieco E (2013) Strengths and weaknesses of MODIS hotspots to characterize global fire occurrence. Remote Sens Environ 131:152–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Haylock MR, Hofstra N, Klein Tank AMG, Klok EJ, Jones PD, New M (2008) A European daily high-resolution gridded data set of surface temperature and precipitation for 1950–2006. J Geophys Res 113:D20119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hofrichter J (2007) Change Point Detection in Generalized Linear Models. Dissertation or Thesis, Technische Universität GrazGoogle Scholar
  25. Justice CO, Giglio L, Korontzi S, Owens J, Morisette JT, Roy D, Descloitres J, Alleaume S, Petitcolin F, Kaufman Y (2002) The MODIS fire products. Remote Sens Environ 83:244–262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Kanamitsu M, Kumar A, Juang H–H, Schemm J-, Wang W, Yang F, Hong SY, Peng P, Chen W, Moorthi S, Ji M (2002) NCEP dynamical seasonal forecast system 2000. Bull Am Meteorol Soc 83:1019–1037CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Keane RE, Holsinger LM, Pratt SD (2006) Simulating historical landscape dynamics using the landscape fire succession model LANDSUM version 4.0 RMRS-GTR-171CDGoogle Scholar
  28. Keeley JE, Fotheringham CJ, Morais M (1999) Reexamining fire suppression impacts on brushland fire regimes. Science 284:1829–1832CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Knapp AK, Smith MD (2001) Variation among biomes in temporal dynamics of aboveground primary production. Science 291:481–484CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Krawchuk MA, Moritz MA (2011) Constraints on global fire activity vary across a resource gradient. Ecology 92:121–132CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Krawchuk MA, Moritz MA, Parisien M, Van Dorn J, Hayhoe K (2009) Global pyrogeography: the current and future distribution of wildfire. PLoS ONE 4:e5102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Larjavaara M, Kuuluvainen T, Tanskanen H, Venalainen A (2004) Variation in forest fire ignition probability in Finland. Silva Fenn 38:253–266Google Scholar
  33. Lenihan JM, Drapek R, Bachelet D, Neilson RP (2003) Climate change effects on vegetation distribution, carbon, and fire in California. Ecol Appl 13:1667–1681CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Li C (2000) Reconstruction of natural fire regimes through ecological modelling. Ecol Model 134:129–144CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lieth H (1975) Primary productivity of the biosphere. Springer-Verlag, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lloret F, Calvo E, Pons X, Dìaz-Delgado R (2002) Wildfires and landscape patterns in the Eastern Iberian Peninsula. Landscape Ecol 17:745–759CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Loepfe L, Martinez-Vilalta J, Oliveres J, Piñol J, Lloret F (2010) Feedbacks between fuel reduction and landscape homogenisation determine fire regimes in three Mediterranean areas. For Ecol Manage 259:2366–2374CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Loepfe L, Martinez-Vilalta J, Piñol J (2011) An integrative model of human-influenced fire regimes and landscape dynamics. Environ Modell Softw 26:1028–1040CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Loepfe L, Lloret F, Román-Cuesta RM (2012a) Comparison of burnt area estimates derived from satellite products and national statistics in Europe. Int J Remote Sens 33:3653–3671CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Loepfe L, Martinez-Vilalta J, Piñol J (2012b) Management alternatives to offset climate change effects on Mediterranean fire regimes in NE Spain. Clim Change 115:693–707CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Luo R, Dong Y, Gan M, Li D, Niu S, Oliver A, Wang K, Luo Y (2013) Global Analysis of Influencing Forces of Fire Activity: the Threshold Relationships between Vegetation and Fire. Life Science Journal 10Google Scholar
  42. Malamud BD, Millington JDA, Perry GLW (2005) Characterizing wildfire regimes in the United States. P Natl Acad Sci USA 102:4694–4699CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Marlon JR, Bartlein PJ, Carcaillet C, Gavin DG, Harrison SP, Higuera PE, Joos F, Power MJ, Prentice IC (2008) Climate and human influences on global biomass burning over the past two millennia. Nature Geosci 1:697–702CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Marlon JR, Bartlein PJ, Walsh MK, Harrison SP, Brown KJ, Edwards ME, Higuera PE, Power MJ, Anderson RS, Briles C, Brunelle A, Carcaillet C, Daniels M, Hu FS, Lavoie M, Long C, Minckley T, Richard PJH, Scott AC, Shafer DS, Tinner W, Umbanhowar CE, Whitlock C (2009) Wildfire responses to abrupt climate change in North America. P Natl Acad Sci USA 106:2519–2524CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Meyn A, Schmidtlein S, Taylor SW, Girardin MP, Thonicke K, Cramer W (2010) Spatial variation of trends in wildfire and summer drought in British Columbia, Canada, 1920–2000. Int J Wildland Fire 19:272–283CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Minnich RA (1983) Fire mosaics in southern California and Northern Baja California. Science 219:1287–1294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Moritz MA, Keeley JE, Johnson EA, Schaffner AA (2004) Testing a basic assumption of scrubland fire management: how important is fuel age? Front Ecol Environ 2:67–72CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Moritz MA, Parisien M, Batllori E, Krawchuk MA, Van Dorn J, Ganz DJ, Hayhoe K (2012) Climate change and disruptions to global fire activity. Ecosphere 3:49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mouillot F, Field CB (2005) Fire history and the global carbon budget: a 1 deg × 1 deg fire history reconstruction for the 20th century. Global Change Biol 11:398–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Mudelsee M (2000) Ramp function regression: a tool for quantifying climate transitions. Comput Geosci 26:293–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Pausas JG (2004) Changes in fire and climate in the eastern Iberian Peninsula (Mediterranean Basin). Clim Change 63:337–350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pausas J, Fernández-Muñoz S (2011) Fire regime changes in the Western Mediterranean Basin: from fuel-limited to drought-driven fire regime. Clim Change 110:215–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Pausas JG, Paula S (2012) Fuel shapes the fire–climate relationship: evidence from Mediterranean ecosystems. Global Ecol Biogeogr 21:1074–1082CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Pellizzaro G, Cesaraccio C, Duce P, Ventura A, Zara P (2007) Relationships between seasonal patterns of live fuel moisture and meteorological drought indices for Mediterranean shrubland species. Int J Wildland Fire 16:232–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Perera A (2008) BFOLDS 1.0: a spatial simulation model for exploring large scale fire regimes and succession in boreal forest landscapes. Forest Research Report: Ontario Forest Research Institute no. 152Google Scholar
  56. Piñol J, Terradas J, Lloret F (1998) Climate warming, wildfire hazard and wildfire occurrence in coastal eastern Spain. Clim Change 38:345–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Piñol J, Beven K, Viegas DX (2005) Modelling the effect of fire-exclusion and prescribed fire on wildfire size in Mediterranean ecosystems. Ecol Model 183:397–409CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Piñol J, Castellnou M, Beven KJ (2007) Conditioning uncertainty in ecological models: assessing the impact of fire management strategies. Ecol Model 207:34–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Preisler HK, Westerling AL (2007) Statistical model for forecasting monthly large wildfire events in western United States. J Appl Meteor Climatol 46:1020–1030CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Preisler HK, Chen SC, Fujioka F, Benoit JW, Westerling AL (2008) Meteorological model applications for estimating probabilities of wildland fires. Int J Wildland Fire 17:305–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Preisler HK, Westerling AL, Gebert KM, Munoz-Arriola F, Holmes TP (2011) Spatially explicit forecasts of large wildland fire probability and suppression costs for California. Int J Wildland Fire 20:508–517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Pueyo S (2007) Self-organised criticality and the response of wildland fires to climate change. Clim Change 82:131–161CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Pueyo S, Graça De Alencastro, Lima Paulo Maurício, Barbosa RI, Cots R, Cardona E, Fearnside PM (2010) Testing for criticality in ecosystem dynamics: the case of Amazonian rainforest and savanna fire. Ecol Lett 13:793–802CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Ricotta C, Avena G, Marchetti M (1999) The flaming sandpile: self-organized criticality and wildfires. Ecol Model 119:73–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Rivas-Martínez S (2008) Globalbioclimatics, Phytosociological Research Center, http://www.globalbioclimatics.org
  66. Rosenzweig ML (1968) Net primary productivity of terrestrial communities: prediction from climatological data. Am Nat 102:67–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Sala OE, Parton WJ, Joyce LA, Lauenroth WK (1988) Primary production of the central grassland region of the United-States. Ecology 69:40–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Scepan J (1999) Thematic validation of high-resolution global land-cover data sets. Photogram Eng Remote Sens 65:1051–1060Google Scholar
  69. Slocum M, Beckage B, Platt W, Orzell S, Taylor W (2010) Effect of climate on wildfire size: a cross-scale analysis. Ecosystems 13:828–840CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Stocks BJ, Fosberg MA, Lynham TJ, Mearns L, Wotton BM, Yang Q, Jin J, Lawrence K, Hartley GR, Mason JA, McKENNEY DW (1998) Climate change and forest fire potential in Russian and Canadian boreal forests. Clim Change 38:1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Sturtevant BR, Scheller RM, Miranda BR, Shinneman D, Syphard A (2009) Simulating dynamic and mixed-severity fire regimes: a process-based fire extension for LANDIS-II. Ecol Model 220:3380–3393CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Tanskanen H, Venäläinen A (2008) The relationship between fire activity and fire weather indices at different stages of the growing season in Finland. Boreal Environ Res 13:285–302Google Scholar
  73. Trouet V, Taylor A, Carleton A, Skinner C (2001) Interannual variations in fire weather, fire extent, and synoptic-scale circulation patterns in northern California and Oregon. Theor Appl Climatol 95:349–360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Turner MG, Romme WH (1994) Landscape dynamics in crown fire ecosystems. Landscape Ecol 9:59–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Van Wagner CE, Pickett TL (1985) Equations and FORTRAN program for the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System. Canadian Forestry Service, OttawaGoogle Scholar
  76. Venables WN, Ripley BD (2002) Modern Applied Statistics with S. Springer, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Viegas DX, Piñol J, Viegas MT, Ogaya R (2001) Estimating live fine fuels moisture content using meteorologically-based indices. Int J Wildland Fire 10:223–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Wastl C, Schunk C, Leuchner M, Pezzatti GB, Menzel A (2012) Recent climate change: long-term trends in meteorological forest fire danger in the Alps. Agric For Meteorol 162:1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Webb WL, Lauenroth WK, Szarek SR, Kinerson RS (1983) Primary production and abiotic controls in forests, grasslands, and desert ecosystems in the United States. Ecology 64:134–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Weise DR, Zhou X, Sun L, Mahalingam S (2005) Fire spread in chaparral—‘go or no-go?’. Int J Wildland Fire 14:99–106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  81. Westerling A, Bryant B (2008) Climate change and wildfire in California. Clim Change 87:231–249CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Westerling AL, Hidalgo HG, Cayan DR, Swetnam TW (2006) Warming and earlier spring increase Western US Forest Wildfire Activity. Science 313:940–943CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  83. Westerling A, Bryant B, Preisler H, Holmes T, Hidalgo H, Das T, Shrestha S (2011) Climate change and growth scenarios for California wildfire. Clim Change 109:445–463CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Williams AAJ, Karoly DJ, Tapper N (2001) The sensitivity of Australian fire danger to climate change. Clim Change 49:171–191CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Wood SN (2000) Modelling and smoothing parameter estimation with multiple quadratic penalties. J R Stat Soc B 62:413–428CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lasse Loepfe
    • 1
  • Anselm Rodrigo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Francisco Lloret
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF)Universitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterraSpain
  2. 2.Unit of Ecology, Department of Animal Biology, Plant Biology and EcologyUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBellaterraSpain

Personalised recommendations