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CR 31:85-95 (2006)  -  doi:10.3354/cr031085

Potential impact of climate change on fire risk in the Mediterranean area

M. Moriondo1,*, P. Good2, R. Durao3, M. Bindi1, C. Giannakopoulos2, J. Corte-Real3

1Department of Agronomy and Land Management, University of Florence, Piazzale delle Cascine 18, 50144 Florence, Italy
2Institute for Environmental Research and Sustainable Development, National Observatory of Athens, PO Box 20048, Thissio, 11810 Athens, Greece
3Instituto de Ciência Aplicada e Tecnologia, Universidade de Lisboa, 1749-016 Lisboa, Portugal

ABSTRACT: In this study, output of the Hadley Centre Regional Circulation Model (RCM) (HadRM3P, 0.44° × 0.44° resolution) was used as input to the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index (FWI) for the present and 2 future IPCC climate scenarios (Special Report on Emissions Scenarios [SRES], A2 and B2 scenarios). The aim was to investigate the effects of climate change on fire risk (number of days with fire risk, length of fire risk season, etc.) for the EU Mediterranean countries. Results indicated a general increase in fire risk in both future scenarios over the whole study area. The increase in fire risk was mainly due to 3 components: (1) increase in the number of years with fire risk; (2) increase in the length of the season with fire risk; (3) increase of extreme events (e.g. total number of days with FWI >45 and episodes with FWI >45 for 7 consecutive days) during the fire season. As expected, A2 scenario showed a greater increase in risk than B2 scenario. These general increases in fire risk may have a very strong impact in areas where forest land cover is high (e.g. the Alps region in Italy, the Pyrenees in Spain and mountains of the Balkan region).

KEY WORDS: Climate change · Forest fire · RCMs · Mediterranean basin · A2 and B2 IPCC-scenarios

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