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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 13(4)

Fire weather index system components for large fires in the Canadian boreal forest

B. D. Amiro A D, K. A. Logan B, B. M. Wotton B C, M. D. Flannigan B, J. B. Todd A, B. J. Stocks B, D. L. Martell C

A Canadian Forest Service, Northern Forestry Centre, 5320-122 Street, Edmonton, AB, T6H 3S5, Canada.
B Canadian Forest Service, Great Lakes Forestry Centre, 1219 Queen Street East, Sault Ste. Marie, ON, P6A 2E5, Canada.
C Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto, 33 Willcocks Street, Toronto, ON, M5S 3B3, Canada.
D Corresponding author. Present address: Department of Soil Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB, R3T 2N2, Canada. Telephone: +1 204 474 9155; email: brian_amiro@umanitoba.ca
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Canadian Fire Weather Index (FWI) System components and head fire intensities were calculated for fires greater than 2 km2 in size for the boreal and taiga ecozones of Canada from 1959 to 1999. The highest noon-hour values were analysed that occurred during the first 21 days of each of 9333 fires. Depending on ecozone, the means of the FWI System parameters ranged from: fine fuel moisture code (FFMC), 90 to 92 (82 to 96 for individual fires); duff moisture code (DMC), 38 to 78 (10 to 140 for individual fires); drought code (DC), 210 to 372 (50 to 600 for individual fires); and fire weather index, 20 to 33 (5 to 60 for individual fires). Fine fuel moisture code decreased, DMC had a mid-season peak, and DC increased through the fire season. Mean head fire intensities ranged from 10 to 28 MW m-1 in the boreal spruce fuel type, showing that most large fires exhibit crown fire behaviour. Intensities of individual fires can exceed 60 MW m-1. Most FWI System parameters did not show trends over the 41-year period because of large inter-annual variability. A changing climate is expected to create future weather conditions more conducive to fire throughout much of Canada but clear changes have not yet occurred.

Keywords: drought; duff moisture; fire intensity; forest fire; seasonality; taiga; trends.

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