Assessing impacts of future climate change on extreme fire weather and pyro-regions in Iberian Peninsula

T. Calheiros*, M.G. Pereira, J.P. Nunes

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Weather conditions play an important role in wildfire activity. In many regions, future climate could lead to different fire weather, with impacts on the ignition, behaviour, and suppression of wildfires, which may, therefore, force new fire regimes. This study aimed to assess the evolution of fire weather indices and the Number of Extreme Days (NED) in the context of climate change. We estimated the impact of these changes on monthly Normalized Burnt Area (NBA) and in the spatial distribution of Pyro-Regions (PR), using a recently identified relationship between NED and NBA intra-annual patterns. The components of the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System (CFFWIS) in the Iberian Peninsula were analysed for present-day conditions and future climate scenarios, using daily data from ERA-Interim (1980–2014) and an ensemble of simulations from 11 EURO-CORDEX high spatial resolution models, for two future periods (2041–2070 and 2071–2100) and scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). Results suggest a significant increase in future fire weather risk, especially in late spring and early autumn, and also in southern and eastern Iberian Peninsula. NED is expected to strongly increase in summer months in the four PRs, but also to decrease in March and April in the northwestern and southwestern PR. This could change the spatial distribution of PRs, with a general northwards movement: the northern PR is expected to disappear except north of the Cantabrian Mountains, being replaced by the northwestern PR; the southwestern PR is expected to grow and occupy part of the area currently in the northwestern PR; and a new PR could appear in parts of the current eastern PR. These PR changes follow the projected modifications in the major climate regions. Results suggest different fire regimes in the future, with higher fire weather risk, and a longer and harsher fire season.

Original languageEnglish
Article number142233
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Volume754
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Climate change
  • CORDEX
  • Fire weather
  • Iberian Peninsula
  • Pyro-regions
  • Wildfires

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