Wildfires are some of the most destructive natural disasters in the country, threatening lives, destroying homes and infrastructure, and creating air pollution.
Wildfires are some of the most destructive natural disasters in the country, threatening lives, destroying homes and infrastructure, and creating air pollution. In order to properly forecast and manage wildfires, managers need to understand wildfire risk and allocate resources accordingly. A new study contributes scientific expertise to this effort.
In the study, published in the November issue of the journal Earth’s Future, researchers from DRI, Argonne National Laboratory, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, teamed up to assess future fire risk. They looked at the four fire danger indices used across North America to predict and manage the risk of wildfire to see how the risk correlated with observed wildfire size between 1984 and 2019. Then, they examined how wildfire risk changed under the projected future climate, finding that both fire potential and a longer wildfire season are likely under climate change.
“We use several of these fire danger indices to evaluate fire risk in the contiguous U.S.,” said Guo Yu, Ph.D., assistant research professor at DRI and lead author of the study. “But previous studies have only looked at how climate change will alter wildfire risk using one of them, and only a few studies have looked at how fire risk has translated to the size or characteristics of actual wildfires. We wanted to rigorously assess both in this paper.”
Read more at: Desert Research Institute
Figure 6 from the study showing the change in the average number of annual days of extreme fire risk between now and the end of the 21st century. (Photo Credit: Yu et al., 2023)