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

Regional signatures of future fire weather over eastern Australia from global climate models

Hamish G. Clarke A B C , Peter L. Smith A and Andrew J. Pitman B

A NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water, Climate Change Science Section, PO Box 3720, Parramatta, NSW 2124, Australia.

B University of NSW, Climate Change Research Centre, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: h.clarke@student.unsw.edu.au

International Journal of Wildland Fire 20(4) 550-562 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/WF10070
Submitted: 8 July 2010  Accepted: 25 October 2010   Published: 20 June 2011

Abstract

Skill-selected global climate models were used to explore the effect of future climate change on regional bushfire weather in eastern Australia. Daily Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) was calculated in four regions of differing rainfall seasonality for the 20th century, 2050 and 2100 using the A2 scenario from the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios. Projected changes in FFDI vary along a latitudinal gradient. In summer rainfall-dominated tropical north-east Australia, mean and extreme FFDI are projected to decrease or remain close to 20th century levels. In the uniform and winter rainfall regions, which occupy south-east continental Australia, FFDI is projected to increase strongly by 2100. Projections fall between these two extremes for the summer rainfall region, which lies between the uniform and summer tropical rainfall zones. Based on these changes in fire weather, the fire season is projected to start earlier in the uniform and winter rainfall regions, potentially leading to a longer overall fire season.

Additional keywords: climate projections, fire seasonality, Forest Fire Danger Index.


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