Third International Conference on Fire Behaviour and Risk

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Assessing the capacity of General Circulation Models to simulate spatiotemporal variability in fire weather indicators

Weather and climate play an important role in shaping geographical distributions of burnable areas and global fire regimes. At global scale, fire danger is likely to increase in the near future in most regions of the world due to warmer temperatures, drier conditions and changes in precipitation patterns, as projected by the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). There is a need to develop the most reliable projections of future climate-driven fire danger to enable decision makers and forest managers to both take targeted proactive actions and respond to future fire events.

Climate change projections generated by General Circulation Models (GCMs) provide the most important basis for understanding past, present and future changes in the climate system and their impacts. GCMs are subject to systematic errors and biases, which are not fully considered when developing risk scenarios for wildfire activity. Projections of climate-driven fire danger have often been limited to the use of single models or the mean of multi-model ensembles, not including a model evaluation step.

Here, a comprehensive global evaluation of the representation of a series of fire weather indicators in the latest generation of GCMs is presented. Seven fire weather indices from the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System were generated using daily field realisations simulated by 16 GCMs from the 6th Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP6). The capacity of each model to realistically simulate the variability, magnitude and spatial extent of fire weather was assessed with reference to a reanalysis dataset. The highest-performing models were identified and, subsequently, the limitations of combining models based on independency and equal performance when generating fire weather projections are discussed. To conclude, recommendations are given for the development of user- and policy-driven model evaluation at spatial scales relevant for decision-making and forest management.
Period5 May 2022
Event typeConference
LocationAlghero, ItalyShow on map