Climatic Change

, Volume 109, Supplement 1, pp 445–463 | Cite as

Climate change and growth scenarios for California wildfire

  • A. L. WesterlingEmail author
  • B. P. Bryant
  • H. K. Preisler
  • T. P. Holmes
  • H. G. Hidalgo
  • T. Das
  • S. R. Shrestha


Large wildfire occurrence and burned area are modeled using hydroclimate and landsurface characteristics under a range of future climate and development scenarios. The range of uncertainty for future wildfire regimes is analyzed over two emissions pathways (the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios [SRES] A2 and B1 scenarios); three global climate models (Centre National de Recherches Météorologiques CM3, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory CM2.1 and National Center for Atmospheric Research PCM1); three scenarios for future population growth and development footprint; and two thresholds for defining the wildland-urban interface relative to housing density. Results were assessed for three 30-year time periods centered on 2020, 2050, and 2085, relative to a 30-year reference period centered on 1975. Increases in wildfire burned area are anticipated for most scenarios, although the range of outcomes is large and increases with time. The increase in wildfire burned area associated with the higher emissions pathway (SRES A2) is substantial, with increases statewide ranging from 36% to 74% by 2085, and increases exceeding 100% in much of the forested areas of Northern California in every SRES A2 scenario by 2085.


Burned Area Fire Severity Generalize Pareto Distribution Fire Occurrence National Park Service 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Supplementary material

10584_2011_329_MOESM1_ESM.docx (176 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 176 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. L. Westerling
    • 1
    Email author
  • B. P. Bryant
    • 2
  • H. K. Preisler
    • 3
  • T. P. Holmes
    • 4
  • H. G. Hidalgo
    • 5
  • T. Das
    • 6
  • S. R. Shrestha
    • 1
  1. 1.University of California, MercedMercedUSA
  2. 2.Pardee RAND Graduate SchoolThe RAND CorporationSanta MonicaUSA
  3. 3.USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest Research StationAlbanyUSA
  4. 4.USDA Forest Service Southern Research StationResearch Triangle ParkUSA
  5. 5.School of Physics and Center for Geophysical ResearchUniversity of Costa RicaSan JoseCosta Rica
  6. 6.CH2MHILL, Inc.San DiegoUSA

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