Research predicts extreme fires will increasingly be part of our global landscape

February 6, 2017
University of Tasmania Professor of Environmental Change Biology David Bowman led an international collaboration -- including researchers from the University of Idaho and South Dakota State University -- to compile a global satellite database of the intensity of 23 million landscape fires between 2002 and 2013. Credit: University of Tasmania

Increasingly dangerous fire weather is forecast as the global footprint of extreme fires expands, according to the latest research.

University of Tasmania Professor of Environmental Change Biology David Bowman led an international collaboration - including researchers from the University of Idaho and South Dakota State University - to compile a global satellite database of the intensity of 23 million landscape fires between 2002 and 2013.

Of the 23 million fires, researchers honed in on 478 of the most extreme wildfire events.

"Extreme fire events are a global and natural phenomenon, particularly in forested areas that have pronounced dry seasons," Professor Bowman said.

"With the exception of land clearance, the research found that extremely intense fires are associated with anomalous weather - such as droughts, winds, or in desert regions, following particularly wet seasons.

"Of the top 478 events we identified 144 economically and socially disastrous extreme fire events that were concentrated in regions where humans have built into flammable forested landscapes, such as areas surrounding cities in southern Australia and western North America."

Using model projections to investigate the likely consequences of climate change, the research found more extreme fires are predicted in the future for Australia's east coast, including Brisbane, and the whole of the Mediterranean region - Portugal, Spain, France, Greece and Turkey.

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Interview with University of Tasmania Professor of Environmental Change Biology David Bowman, who led an international collaboration -- including researchers from the University of Idaho and South Dakota State University -- to compile a global satellite database of the intensity of 23 million landscape fires between 2002 and 2013. Credit: University of Tasmania

"The projections suggest an increase in the days conducive to extreme wildfire events by 20 to 50 per cent in these disaster-prone landscapes, with sharper increases in the subtropical Southern Hemisphere, and the European Mediterranean Basin," Professor Bowman said.

University of Idaho Assistant Professor Crystal Kolden said the United States had a much higher proportion of fire events become disasters than any other country in the study. Wildfire burned more than 10 million acres in the US in 2015, and cost over $2 billion to suppress.

"What is really novel about this study is that in the US, we tend to make the assumption that all large and intense fires are disasters, and that there is nothing we can do about it," Assistant Professor Kolden said.

"But that is not the case at all. What makes a fire event a disaster in the US is when key factors combine - low density housing amidst dense forests, the right climatic conditions, and a lack of fire preparedness on the part of humans.

"We can't stop big, intense fires from happening here, and they are increasing under climate change. However, in the western US, we can reduce the potential for fire disasters by both reducing forest density and improving mitigation and preparedness through the development of -resilient communities."

The research has been published today in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Ecology and Evolution.

The research is released on the day that Professor Bowman's home state remembers the impact of 1967 bushfires which claimed the lives of 62 people, left 900 injured and more than 7000 homeless. The research resulting from these fires built the foundations of a globally relevant research effort in the field for Tasmania.

Explore further: Image: Spate of fires across California's Central Valley

More information: David M. J. S. Bowman et al, Human exposure and sensitivity to globally extreme wildfire events, Nature Ecology & Evolution (2017). DOI: 10.1038/s41559-016-0058

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FactsReallyMatter
1 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2017
This research is based on climate change models. As the climate models disappear into oblivion so too will this research.
antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 07, 2017
This research is based on climate change models. As the climate models disappear into oblivion so too will this research.

Your unqualified opinion vs. real research done by thousands of people WAY smarter than you.

Guess which one hold more weight.
geokstr
1 / 5 (1) Feb 07, 2017
I'll bet there's a website out there keeping track of all these "scientific" predictions of the apocalypse that will inevitably occur tomorrow unless we voluntarily (or not) surrender all our liberties and treasure to the Collective today.

And when they fail to happen, they disappear down the same memory hole that swallows all the inconvenient truths that don't conform to the narrative. When someone with a memory brings them up, they're attacked as denialists.
antigoracle
2 / 5 (4) Feb 07, 2017
More FAKE "science" from the AGW Cult.
http://lysandersp...e-1930s/
antialias_physorg
3 / 5 (2) Feb 08, 2017
I'll bet there's a website out there keeping track of all these "scientific" predictions of the apocalypse that will inevitably occur tomorrow unless we voluntarily (or not) surrender all our liberties and treasure to the Collective today.

There is: any empty page. You're comitting pure hyperbole, here. No scientist is saying the world will cease to exiist tomorrow. Just that we'll be facing lots of really, really expensive problems (paid for by you: the taxpayer) unless we make some adjustments now (which are rathetr cheap and also will benefit your wallet, your health and future generations)

But I guess you belong to the kind of people who don't buy any kind insurance but rather pay through the nose for any accidents/medical bills when it happens, right? Or do you own any kind of insurance? Anything? If so then all your posts on here are totally hypocritical.
FactsReallyMatter
2 / 5 (4) Feb 08, 2017
The moon is falling, I've got great insurance to protect you. 180 billion sounds about right.

Plus, at no additional cost I will cover you for AGW as well

/sarc off

Prevention only works when there is a real threat.
There is no real threat here, so prevention is a scam. I've no problem if you want to be scammed, leave me out of it.
aksdad
3 / 5 (2) Feb 14, 2017
Aaaand now for an analysis based on facts not computer-generated fiction.

There is very little correlation between wildfires and global temperatures. There is a strong correlation to drought coupled with available biomass that could potentially burn. Forest management is the strongest predictor of wildfires. Poor management increases the chance for a fire.

Hilariously, global climate models (which are wildly inaccurate, btw) also predict a wetter future suggesting less drought, so fewer and smaller fires. But those same models also predict more drought, which would mean more fires in places that have lots of biomass. In other words, the global climate models are no more accurate than your average street-corner doomsayer inspecting goat entrails.

Meanwhile, here is U.S. forest fire data for 1960 to 2016:

https://www.nifc....res.html

The simple "solution" is to not build in forests prone to wildfires because eventually there will be one.
aksdad
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 14, 2017
Wildfire burned more than 10 million acres in the US in 2015, and cost over $2 billion to suppress.

And wildfire burned only 5.5 million acres in the US in 2016, which we've been told was "the hottest year ever!"

https://www.nifc....res.html

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