Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Climate Change Will Alter Risks of Wildfire Worldwide, Some Shifts Rapid, Extensive

13.06.2012
A Texas Tech University climate scientist said climate change is widely expected to disrupt future fire patterns around the world, with some regions, such as the western United States, seeing more frequent fires within the next 30 years.

The study will publish Tuesday, (June 12) in Ecosphere, an open-access, peer-reviewed journal of the Ecological Society of America. Researchers used 16 different climate change models to generate one of the most comprehensive projections to date of how climate change might affect global fire patterns.

Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech and co-author of the study, was part of a team led by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, in collaboration with an international team of scientists.

“Most of the previous wildfire projection studies focused on specific regions of the world, or relied upon only a handful of climate models,” said Hayhoe, also an associate professor. “Our study is unique in that we build a forecast for fire based upon consistent projections across 16 different climate models combined with satellite data, which gives a global perspective on recent fire patterns and their relationship to climate.”

By the end of the century, almost all of North America and most of Europe is projected to see a jump in the frequency of wildfires, primarily because of increasing temperature trends. At the same time, fire activity could actually decrease around equatorial regions because of increased rainfall, particularly among the tropical rainforests.

“In the long run, we found what most fear — increasing fire activity across large parts of the planet,” said lead author Max Moritz, a fire specialist in UC Cooperative Extension. “But the speed and extent to which some of these changes may happen is surprising. These abrupt changes in fire patterns not only affect people’s livelihoods, but also they add stress to native plants and animals that are already struggling to adapt to habitat loss.”

The projections emphasize how important it is for experts in conservation and urban development to include fire in long-term planning and risk analysis, Moritz said, who is based at UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources.

UC Berkeley researchers worked with Hayhoe to combine more than a decade of satellite-based fire records with historical climate observations and model simulations of future change. The authors documented gradients between fire-prone and fire-free areas of Earth, and quantified the environmental factors responsible for these patterns. They then used these relationships to simulate how future climate change would drive future fire activity through the coming century as projected by a range of global climate models.

The fire models in this study are based on climate averages that include mean annual precipitation and mean temperature of the warmest month. These variables tend to control long-term biomass productivity and how flammable that fuel can get during the fire season, the researchers said.

Variables that reflect more ephemeral fluctuations in climate, such as annual rainfall shifts due to El Niño cycles, were not included because they vary over shorter periods of time, and future climate projections are only considered representative for averages over time periods of 20-30 years or longer, the authors said.

The study found that the greatest disagreements among models occur during the next few decades, with uncertainty across more than half the planet about whether fire activity will increase or decrease. However, some areas of the world, such as the western United States, show a high level of agreement in climate models for the short term and long term, resulting in a stronger conclusion that those regions should brace themselves for more fire.

“When many different models paint the same picture, that gives us confidence that the results of our study reflect a robust fire frequency projection for that region,” Hayhoe said. “What is clear is that the choices we are making as a society right now and in the next few decades will determine what Earth’s climate will look like over this century and beyond.”

Study co-author David Ganz, who was director of forest carbon science at The Nature Conservancy at the time of the study, noted the significance of the findings for populations that rely upon fire-sensitive ecosystems.

“In Southeast Asia alone, there are millions of people that depend on forested ecosystems for their livelihoods,” he said. “Knowing how climate and fire interact are important factors that one needs to consider when managing landscapes to maintain these ecosystem goods and services.”

The researchers noted that the models they developed focused on fire frequencies and that linking these to other models of fire intensity and vegetation change are important next steps.

"Our ability to model fire activity is improving,” Moritz said. “A more basic challenge now is learning to coexist with fire itself.”

The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Science Foundation and The Nature Conservancy helped support this study.

CONTACT: Katharine Hayhoe, director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, (806) 742-0015 or katharine.hayhoe@ttu.edu; Max Moritz, fire specialist in UC Cooperative Extension, UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources, (510) 642-7329 or mmoritz@berkeley.edu; David Ganz, USAID Lowering Emissions in Asia's Forests Program, +66-2-631-1259 (Thailand) or dganz@field.winrock.org.

John Davis | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.ttu.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dispersal of Fish Eggs by Water Birds – Just a Myth?
19.02.2018 | Universität Basel

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

Im Focus: Like a wedge in a hinge

Researchers lay groundwork to tailor drugs for new targets in cancer therapy

In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magnetic nano-imaging on a table top

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Start of work for the world's largest electric truck

20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research

Atoms may hum a tune from grand cosmic symphony

20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>