Climatic Change

, Volume 119, Issue 3–4, pp 733–746 | Cite as

Projection of fire potential to future climate scenarios in the Alpine area: some methodological considerations

  • D. CaneEmail author
  • C. Wastl
  • S. Barbarino
  • L. A. Renier
  • C. Schunk
  • A. Menzel


In Europe, wildfires are an issue not only for the Mediterranean area, but also in the Alpine regions in terms of increasing number of events and severity. In this study we evaluate the impact of climate change on the fire potential in the Alps in the past and in future scenarios. The Fine Fuel Moisture Code (FFMC) of the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System, which successfully distinguishes among recorded fire/no fire events, is applied to projections of Regional Climate Models (RCMs) calculated on the SRES scenario A1B. We compare two different techniques: 1) a single model run of the COSMO-CLM RCM at 18 km resolution, and 2) a combination of 25-km resolution RCMs from the ENSEMBLES project, combined with the Multimodel SuperEnsemble technique and a new probabilistic Multimodel SuperEnsemble Dressing. The single-model RCM allows for a greater coherence among the input parameters, while the Multimodel techniques permit to reduce the model biases and to downscale to a higher resolution where long term records of observations are available. The projected changes with the Multimodel in the scenario give an estimation of increasing wildfire potential in the mid XXI century. In particular the frequency of severe wildfire potential days is shown to increase dramatically. The single (independent) COSMO model gives a weaker signal and in some regions of the study area the predicted changes are opposite to the ones by the Multimodel. This is mainly due to increasing precipitation amounts simulated especially in the northern parts of the Alps. However, there are also some individual models included in the Multimodel ensemble that show a similar signal. This confirms the ambiguity of any impact study based on a single climate model due to the uncertainty of the projections of the climate models.


Regional Climate Model Fire Danger Alpine Area Fire Weather Index Scenario Period 
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.



This work was conducted under the European Project ALP FFIRS, which is funded by the European Regional Development fund of the Alpine Space Program, reference number 15-2-3-IT.

The ENSEMBLES data used in this work was funded by the EU FP6 Integrated Project ENSEMBLES (Contract number 505539) whose support is gratefully acknowledged.

Supplementary material

10584_2013_775_MOESM1_ESM.doc (96 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 96.5 KB)


  1. Böhm U, Keuler K, Österle H, Kücken M, Hauffe D (2008) Quality of a climate reconstruction for the CADSES region. Meteorol Z 17(8):477–485CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cane D, Milelli M (2006) Weather forecasts obtained with a Multimodel SuperEnsemble Technique in a complex orography region. Meteorol Z 15(2):207–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cane D, Milelli M (2010) Can a Multimodel SuperEnsemble technique be used for precipitation forecasts? Adv Geosci 25:17–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cane D., Barbarino S., Renier L. A., and Ronchi C. (2012a) Detailed downscaling trough Ensemble techniques of the Regional Climate Models for a Fire Weather Indices projection in the Alpine region. In: D. Spano, V. Bacciu, M. Salis, C. Sirca (eds) Modelling fire behaviour and risk, ISBN: 978-88-904409-7-7Google Scholar
  5. Cane D, Barbarino S, Renier L, Ronchi C (2012b) Regional climate models downscaling in the Alpine Area with Multimodel SuperEnsemble. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci Discuss 9:9425–9454CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chiles, J.-P. and Delfiner, P. (1999) Geostatistics, Modeling Spatial Uncertainty, Wiley Series in Probability and statisticsGoogle Scholar
  7. Conedera M., Cesti G., Pezzatti G.B., Zumbrunnen T., Spinedi F. (2006) Lightning-induced fires in the Alpine region: An increasing problem. In: D. X. Viegas (ed) V International Conference on Forest Fire ResearchGoogle Scholar
  8. Feldmann H, Früh B, Schädler G, Panitz H-J, Keuler K, Jacob D, Lorenz P (2008) Evaluation of the precipitation for South-western Germany from high resolution simulations with regional climate models. Meteorol Z 17(4):455–466CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Frei C, Schöll R, Fukutome S, Schmidli J, Vidale PL (2006) Future change of precipitation extremes in Europe: intercomparison of scenarios from regional climate models. J Geophys Res 111:D06105CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gonzalez P, Neilson RP, Lenihan JM, Drapek RJ (2010) Global patterns in the vulnerability of ecosystems to vegetation shifts due to climate change. Glob Ecol Biogeogr 19:755–768CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gossow, H., R. Hafellner, N. Arndt. (2007) More forest fires in the Austrian Alps—a real coming danger? In: Managing Alpine Future—Proceedings of the Innsbruck Conference, 15-17October 2007. A. Borsdorf, J. Stötter and E. Veuillet (eds), 356–362. Verlag der Österreichischen WissenschaftenGoogle Scholar
  12. Haylock MR, Hofstra N, Klein Tank AMG, Klok EJ, Jones PD, New M (2008) A European daily high-resolution gridded dataset of surface temperature and precipitation. J Geophys Res (Atmospheres) 113:D20119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Heinrich G, Gobiet A (2012) The future of dry and wet spells in Europe: a comprehensive study based on the ENSEMBLES regional climate models. Int J Climatol 32(13):1951–1970CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hiebl J, Auer I, Böhm R, Schöner W, Maugeri M, Lentini G, Spinoni J, Brunetti M, Nanni T, Tadić MP, Bihari Z, Dolinar M, Mueller-Westermeier G (2009) A high-resolution 1961–1990 monthly temperature climatology for the greater Alpine region. Meteorol Z 18(5):507–530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hollweg HD, Böhm U, Fast I, Hennemuth B, Keuler K, Keup-Thiel E, Lautenschlager M, Legutke S, Radtke K, Rockel B, Schubert M, Will A, Woldt M, Wunram C (2008) Ensemble simulations over europe with the regional climate model CLM forced with IPCC AR4 global scenarios. M & D Tech Rep 3Google Scholar
  16. Hostetler, S. W., P. J. Bartlein, J. O. Holman, A. M. Solomon, and S. L. Shafer (2003) Using a regional climate model to diagnose climatological and meteorological controls of wildfire in the western United States, Second International Wildland Fire Ecology and Fire Management Congress and Fifth Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology, 16–20 November 2003, Orlando, FL. American Meteorological Society, Boston, MA. p. 138–139,
  17. Iizumi T, Uno F, Nishimori M (2012) Climate downscaling as a source of uncertainty in projecting local climate change impacts. J Meteorol Soc Jpn 90B/SI:83–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Jaeger EB, Anders I, Luthi D, Rockel B, Scar C, Seneviratne S (2008) Analysis of ERA40-driven CLM simulations for Europe. Met Z 17(4):349–367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Jungclaus JH, Keenlyside N, Botzet M et al (2006) Ocean circulation and tropical variability in the coupled model ECHAM5/MPI-OM. J Clim 19(16):3952–3972CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Kapper K.L., Truhetz H., Gobiet A. (2010) “Determination of the Effective Resolution of Regional Climate Models by Spectral Decomposition” Proc. 11. Österr. Klimatag, Vienna, 11–12 March 2010Google Scholar
  21. Knutti R, Abramowitz G, Collins M, Eyring V, Gleckler PJ, Hewitson B, Mearns L (2010) Good practice guidance paper on assessing and combining multi model climate projections. In: Stocker TF, Qin D, Plattner G-K, Tignor M, Midgley PM (eds) Meeting report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change expert meeting on assessing and combining multi model climate projections. IPCC Working Group I Technical Support Unit, University of Bern, BernGoogle Scholar
  22. Krishnamurti TN, Kishtawal CM, Larow TE, Bachiochi DR, Zhang Z, Williford CE, Gadgil S, Surendran S (1999) Improved weather and seasonal climate forecasts from Multimodel SuperEnsemble. Science 285:1548–1550CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lindner M, Maroschek M, Netherer S, Kremer A, Barbati A, Garcia-Gonzalo J, Seidl R, Delzon S, Corona P, Kolström M, Lexer MJ, Marchetti M (2010) Climate change impacts, adaptive capacity, and vulnerability of European forest ecosystems. Forest Ecol Manage 259(4, 5):698–709CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Moritz MA, Parisien M-A, Batllori E, Krawchuk MA, Van Dorn J, Ganz DJ, Hayhoe K (2012) Climate change and disruptions to global fire activity. Ecosphere 3:art49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Randall DA, Wood RA, Bony S, Colman R, Fichefet T, Fyfe J, Kattsov V, Pitman A, Shukla J, Srinivasan J, Stouffer RJ, Sumi A, Taylor KE (2007) Climate models and their evaluation. In: Solomon S, Qin D, Manning M, Chen Z, Marquis M, Averyt KB, Tignor M, Miller HL (eds) Climate change 2007: The physical science basis. contribution of working group i to the fourth assessment report of the intergovernmental panel on climate change. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  26. Rockel B, Geyer B (2008) The performance of the regional climate model CLM in different climate regions, based on the example of precipitation. Meteorol Z 17(4):487–498CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Ruosteenoja K, Tuomenvirta H, Jylha K (2007) GCM-based regional temperature and precipitation change estimates for Europe under four SRES scenarios applying a super-ensemble pattern-scaling method. Clim Chang 81:193–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Schindler A, Maraun D, Luterbacher J (2012) Validation of the present day annual cycle in heavy precipitation over the British Islands simulated by 14 RCMs. J Geophys Res 117, D18107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Schumacher S, Bugmann H (2006) The relative importance of climatic effects, wildfires and management for future forest landscape dynamics in the Swiss Alps. Glob Chang Biol 12:1435–1450CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Seidl R, Rammer W, Lexer MJ (2010) Climate change and forest disturbances. BioScience 106(2):225–254Google Scholar
  31. Tinner W, Conedera M, Ammann B, Lotter AF (2005) Fire ecology north and south of the Alps since the last ice age. The Holocene 15:1214–1226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Van Wagner CE (1985) Development and structure of the Canadian forest fire weather index. Can For Serv Ottawa Onto For Tech Rep 35Google Scholar
  33. 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 162–163:1–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wastl C, Schunk C, Lüpke M, Cocca G, Conedera M, Valese E, Menzel A (2013) Large-scale weather types, forest fire danger, and wildfire occurrence in the Alps. Agric For Meteorol 168:15–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Yun WT, Stefanova L, Krishnamurti TN (2003) Improvement of the multimodel superensemble technique for seasonal forecasts. J Clim 16:3834–3840CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Zanis P, Kapsomenakis I, Philandras C, Douvis K, Nikolakis D, Kanellopoulou E, Zerefos C, Repapis C (2012) Analysis of an ensemble of present day and future regional climate simulations for Greece. Int J Climatol 29(11):1614–1633CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Zumbrunnen T, Bugmann H, Conedera M, Buergi M (2009) Linking forest fire regimes and climate—A historical analysis in a dry inner alpine valley. Ecosystems. doi: 10.1007/s10021-008-9207-3 Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Cane
    • 1
    Email author
  • C. Wastl
    • 2
  • S. Barbarino
    • 1
  • L. A. Renier
    • 1
  • C. Schunk
    • 2
  • A. Menzel
    • 2
  1. 1.Regional Agency for Environmental Protection - Arpa PiemonteTorinoItaly
  2. 2.Chair of EcoclimatologyTechnische Universität MünchenFreisingGermany

Personalised recommendations