An investigation of future fuel load and fire weather in Australia.

Clarke, H., A.J. Pitman, J. Kala, C. Carouge, V. Haverd and J.P. Evans
Climatic Change, 139(3), 591-605, doi: 10.1007/s10584-016-1808-9, 2016.


We present an assessment of the impact of future climate change on two key drivers of fire risk in Australia, fire weather and fuel load. Fire weather conditions are represented by the McArthur Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI), calculated from a 12-member regional climate model ensemble. Fuel load is predicted from net primary production, simulated using a land surface model forced by the same regional climate model ensemble. Mean annual fine litter is projected to increase across all ensemble members, by 1.2 to 1.7 t ha−1 in temperate areas, 0.3 to 0.5 t ha−1 in grassland areas and 0.7 to 1.1 t ha−1 in subtropical areas. Ensemble changes in annual cumulative FFDI vary widely, from 57 to 550 in temperate areas, −186 to 1372 in grassland areas and −231 to 907 in subtropical areas. These results suggest that uncertainty in FFDI projections will be underestimated if only a single driving model is used. The largest increases in fuel load and fire weather are projected to occur in spring. Deriving fuel load from a land surface model may be possible in other regions, when this information is not directly available from climate model outputs.

Key Figure

Fig. 6 Change in mean monthly (a) fine litter load and (b) FFDI in temperate, grassland and subtropical climate zones. Unbroken line shows multimodel mean, dotted lines show ensemble minimum and maximum values .

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