International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Impact of climate change on area burned in Alberta’s boreal forest

Cordy Tymstra A D , Mike D. Flannigan B , Owen B. Armitage C and Kimberley Logan B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Forest Protection Division, 9th Floor, 9920-108 Street, Edmonton, AB T5K 2M4, Canada.

B Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Great Lakes Forestry Centre, 1219 Queen St. East, Sault Ste Marie, ON P6A 2E5, Canada.

C Ember Research Services, 4345 Northridge Crescent, Victoria, BC V8Z 4Z4, Canada.

D Corresponding author. Email: cordy.tymstra@gov.ab.ca

International Journal of Wildland Fire 16(2) 153-160 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF06084
Published: 30 April 2007

Abstract

Eight years of fire weather data from sixteen representative weather stations within the Boreal Forest Natural Region of Alberta were used to compile reference weather streams for low, moderate, high, very high and extreme Fire Weather Index (FWI) conditions. These reference weather streams were adjusted to create daily weather streams for input into Prometheus – the Canadian Wildland Fire Growth Model. Similar fire weather analyses were completed using Canadian Regional Climate Model (CRCM) output for northern Alberta (174 grid cells) to generate FWI class datasets (temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, Fine Fuel Moisture Code, Duff Moisture Code and Drought Code) for 1 ×, 2 × and 3 × CO2 scenarios. The relative differences between the CRCM scenario outputs were then used to adjust the reference weather streams for northern Alberta. Area burned was calculated for 21 fires, fire weather classes and climate change scenarios. The area burned estimates were weighted based on the historical frequency of area burned by FWI class, and then normalized to derive relative area burned estimates for each climate change scenario. The 2 × and 3 × CO2 scenarios resulted in a relative increase in area burned of 12.9 and 29.4% from the reference 1 × CO2 scenario.


Acknowledgements

Nick Nimchuk, Weather Supervisor, Forest Protection Division, Alberta Sustainable Resource Development provided useful comments and suggestions for the weather analysis, and in particular, the use of representative wind speed directions. Rob Bryce from Mobilia OS Technologies Inc. provided assistance so that a new Prometheus application could be used for this study. Hua Sun and Margriet Berkhout provided assistance with the map productions.


References


Anonymous (2004) Using the Alberta Climate Prediction Model and global climate models to estimate future climates of Alberta. Unpublished Report, Environment/Sustainable Resource Development, Edmonton, AB.

Barrow EG, Yu G (2005) Climate Scenarios for Alberta. A Report Prepared for the Prairie Adaptation research Collaborative (PARC) in co-operation with Alberta Environment. PARC, University of Regina, Regina, SK.

Beaubien EG , Freeland HJ (2000) Spring phenology trends in Alberta, Canada: links to ocean temperature. International Journal of Biometeorology  44, 53–59.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Beck JA , Trevitt CF (1989) Forecasting diurnal variations in meteorological parameters for predicting fire behaviour. Canadian Journal of Forest Research  19, 791–797.


Bergeron Y , Flannigan MD (1995) Predicting the effects of climate change on fire frequency in the southeastern Canadian boreal forest. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution  82, 437–444.
CrossRef |

Brown TJ, Hall BL , Westerling AL (2004) The impact of twenty-first century climate change on wildland fire danger in the western United States: An applications perspective. Climatic Change  62, 365–388.
CrossRef |

Caya D, Laprise R, Giguère M, Bergeron G, Blanchet JP, Stocks BJ, Boer GJ , McFarlane NA (1995) Description of the Canadian regional climate model. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution  82, 477–482.
CrossRef |

Cumming SG (2005) Effective fire suppression in boreal forests. Canadian Journal of Forest Research  35, 772–786.
CrossRef |

Flannigan MD , Van Wagner CE (1991) Climate change and wildfire in Canada. Canadian Journal of Forest Research  21, 66–72.


Flannigan MD, Bergeron Y, Engelmark D , Wotton BM (1998) Future wildfire in circumboreal forests in relation to global warming. Journal of Vegetation Science  9, 469–476.
CrossRef |

Flannigan MD, Stocks BJ , Wotton BM (2000) Climate change and forest fires. The Science of the Total Environment  262, 221–229.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Flannigan MD, Logan KA, Amiro BD, Skinner WR , Stocks BJ (2005) Future area burned in Canada. Climatic Change  72, 1–16.
CrossRef |

Gillett NP, Weaver AJ, Zwiers FW , Flannigan MD (2004) Detecting the effect of climate change on Canadian forest fires. Geophysical Research Letters  31, L18211..
CrossRef |

Harvey DA, Alexander ME , Janz B (1986) A comparison of fire-weather severity in northern Alberta during the 1980 and 1981 fire seasons. Forestry Chronicle  62, 507–513.


Laprise R, Caya D, Frigon A , Paquin D (2003) Current and perturbed climate as simulated by the second-generation Canadian Regional Climate Model (CRCM-II) over northwestern North America. Climate Dynamics  21, 405–421.
CrossRef |

Lawson BD, Armitage OB, Hoskins WD (1996) Diurnal variation in the Fine Fuel Moisture Code: tables and computer source code. Can/BC Partnership Agreement on Forest Resource Development: FRDA II. FRDA Report 245. Canadian Forest Service/British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Victoria, BC.

Miyanishi K , Johnson EA (2001) Comment – A re-examination of the effects of fire suppression in the boreal forest. Canadian Journal of Forest Research  31, 1462–1466.
CrossRef |

Podur J, Martell DL , Knight K (2002) Statistical quality control analysis of forest fire activity in Canada. Canadian Journal of Forest Research  32, 195–205.
CrossRef |

Price C, Rind D (1993). Lightning fires in a 2 × CO2 world. In ‘Proceedings of the 12th Conference on Fire and Forest Meteorology’. 26–28 October 1993, Jekyll Island, GA. pp. 77–84. Society of American Foresters, Publication 94-02. (Bethesda, MD)

Price C , Rind D (1994) The impact of a 2 × CO2 climate on lightning-caused fires. Journal of Climatology  7, 1484–1494.
CrossRef |

Richards GD (1990) An elliptical growth of forest fire fronts and it's numerical solution. International Journal for Numerical Methods in Engineering  30, 1163–1179.

CrossRef |

Saunders CPR (1993) A review of thunderstorm electrification processes. Journal of Applied Meteorology  32, 642–654.
CrossRef |

Stocks BJ, Mason JA, Todd JB, Bosch EM , Wotton BM (2002) Future Area Burned in Canada. Climatic Change  72, 1–16.
CrossRef |

Tymstra C, Wang D, Rogeau M-P (2005a) Alberta wildfire regime analysis. Wildfire Science and Technology Report PFFC-01-5. Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, Forest Protection Division, Edmonton AB.

Tymstra C, MacGregor B , Mayer B (2005b) The 2002 House River Fire. Fire Management Today  65, 16–18.


Van Wagner CE (1987) Development and structure of the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index System. Forest Technology Report 35. Agriculture Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Ottawa, ON.

Ward PC, Tithcott AG , Wotton BM (2001) Reply – A re-examination of the effects of fire suppression in the boreal forest. Canadian Journal of Forest Research  31, 1467–1480.
CrossRef |

Wotton BM , Flannigan MD (1993) Length of the fire season in a changing climate. Forestry Chronicle  69, 187–192.


Wotton BM, Stocks BJ, Flannigan MD, Laprise R, Blanchet JP (1998) Estimating future 2 × CO2 fire climates in the boreal forest of Canada using a regional climate model. In ‘Proceedings of the III International Conference on Forest Fire Research and 14th Conference on Fire and Forest Meteorology’, Luso, Portugal, 16–20 November 1998. (Ed. DX Viegas) pp. 1207–1221. (Society of American Foresters: Bethesda, MD)



Export Citation Cited By (41)

View Altmetrics