Researchers determine that fire seasons are becoming longer

Fire Season Length

We keep hearing that wildfire seasons are becoming longer. One way to verify this for a particular location is by analyzing times of the year that fires occur and the acres burned by date. But researchers have provided more information for the longer fire season discussion by studying weather across planet Earth. They used the data for a 34-year period, from 1979 to 2013, to calculate the U.S. Burning Index, the Canadian Fire Weather Index, and the Australian (or McArthur) Forest Fire Danger Index. They normalized the daily fire danger indices to a common scale and resampled to a common resolution.

What the researchers found was that fire seasons have lengthened across 29.6 million km2 (25.3%) of the Earth’s vegetated surface, resulting in an 18.7% increase in global mean fire season length. They also show a doubling (108.1% increase) of global burnable area affected by long fire seasons.

There were no significant trends in mean annual total precipitation or total precipitation affected area but they did observe a significant increase in mean annual rain-free days, where the mean number of dry days increased by 1.31 days per decade and the global area affected by anomalously dry years significantly increased by 1.6% per decade.

Global Mean Rain-free Days

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

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