Predicting the effect of climate change on wildfire behavior and initial attack success


This study focused on how climate change-induced effects on weather will translate into changes in wildland fire severity and outcomes in California, particularly on the effectiveness of initial attack at limiting the number of fires that escape initial attack. The results indicate that subtle shifts in fire behavior of the sort that might be induced by the climate changes anticipated for the next century are of sufficient magnitude to generate an appreciable increase in the number of fires that escape initial attack. Such escapes are of considerable importance in wildland fire protection planning, given the high cost to society of a catastrophic escape like those experienced in recent decades in the Berkeley-Oakland, Santa Barbara, San Diego, or Los Angeles areas. However, at least for the three study areas considered, it would appear that relatively modest augmentations to existing firefighting resources might be sufficient to compensate for change-induced changes in wildland fire outcomes.

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Correspondence to J. Keith Gilless.

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Fried, J.S., Gilless, J.K., Riley, W.J. et al. Predicting the effect of climate change on wildfire behavior and initial attack success. Climatic Change 87, 251–264 (2008).

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  • Emission Scenario
  • Fire Behavior
  • Initial Attack
  • Wildland Fire
  • Fire Weather