Deriving forest fire ignition risk with biogeochemical process modelling

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Eastaugh, CS & Hasenauer, H 2014, 'Deriving forest fire ignition risk with biogeochemical process modelling', Environmental Modelling & Software, vol. 55, pp. 132-142.

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Peer Reviewed



Climate impacts the growth of trees and also affects disturbance regimes such as wildfire frequency. The European Alps have warmed considerably over the past half-century, but incomplete records make it difficult to definitively link alpine wildfire to climate change. Complicating this is the influence of forest composition and fuel loading on fire ignition risk, which is not considered by purely meteorological risk indices. Biogeochemical forest growth models track several variables that may be used as proxies for fire ignition risk. This study assesses the usefulness of the ecophysiological model BIOME-BGC's ‘soil water’ and ‘labile litter carbon’ variables in predicting fire ignition. A brief application case examines historic fire occurrence trends over pre-defined regions of Austria from 1960 to 2008. Results show that summer fire ignition risk is largely a function of low soil moisture, while winter fire ignitions are linked to the mass of volatile litter and atmospheric dryness.

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