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CR 82:33-54 (2020)  -  DOI:

Observed and expected changes in wildfire-conducive weather and fire events in peri-urban zones and key nature reserves of the Czech Republic

Mirek Trnka1,2,*, Jan Balek1,2, Martin Možný1,3, Emil Cienciala1,4, Petr Čermák5, Daniela Semerádová1, František Jurečka1,2, Petr Hlavinka1,2, Petr Štěpánek1,6, Aleš Farda1, Petr Skalák1, Jana Beranová1,4, Filip Chuchma6, Pavel Zahradníček1,6, Dalibor Janouš1, Zdeněk Žalud1,2, Martin Dubrovský1,7, Pavel Kindlmann1,8, Zdeňka Křenová1,8, Milan Fischer1,2, Jakub Hruška1,9, Rudolf Brázdil1,10

1Global Change Research Institute of the CAS, Bělidla 986/4a, 603 00 Brno, Czech Republic
2Mendel University in Brno, Institute of Agrosystems and Bioclimatology, Zemědělská 1, 613 00 Brno, Czech Republic
3Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, Na Šabatce 17, 143 06 Praha, Czech Republic
4Institute of Forest Ecosystem Research (IFER), Čs. armády 655, 254 01 Jílové, Czech Republic
5Mendel University in Brno, Dept of Forest Protection and Wildlife Management, Zemědělská 3, 613 00 Brno, Czech Republic
6Czech Hydrometeorological Institute, Kroftova 43, 616 67 Brno, Czech Republic
7Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the CAS, Boční II 1401, 141 00 Praha, Czech Republic
8Institute for Environmental Studies, Faculty of Sciences, Charles University, Benátská 2, 128 01 Praha, Czech Republic
9Czech Geological Survey, Klárov 3, 118 21 Praha, Czech Republic
10Institute of Geography, Masaryk University, Kotlářská 2, 611 37 Brno, Czech Republic
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Recent drought and a surge in days with weather conditions conducive to wildfire occurrence during 2015-2019 reminded the Czech Republic that it is not immune to this type of natural hazard. Although Central Europe has not been at the center of such events, observed climate data and climate projections suggest a tendency toward more years with wet and mild winters and dry and hot summers. To fill the existing knowledge gap, we used an ensemble of 9 fuel aridity metrics, including 3 dedicated fire weather indices, and evaluated their level of agreement with actual fire occurrence and their temporal trends. The analysis included peri-urban zones of the 36 largest cities and towns in the Czech Republic (home of 3.8 million inhabitants) and the 29 largest protected areas (covering 13.7% of the territory). Fire weather climatology, based on both the Fire Weather Index and the Forest Fire Danger Index, agreed well with the long-term frequency of fires both in peri-urban zones and within protected areas. Future projections based on regional and global model ensembles indicated a significant increase in fuel aridity and an increase in the area affected by fire-conducive conditions both around urban areas and within protected regions. In particular, the area affected by days with very high risk fire weather conditions is likely to increase significantly relative to the past 60 yr. However, the magnitude of the projected change depends to a large degree on the selected fire weather metric and whether RCM- or GCM-based scenarios are used.

KEY WORDS: Wildfire · Fire weather index · Climate change · Regional climate model · Global circulation model · Nature reserve · Peri-urban zone · Czech Republic

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Cite this article as: Trnka M, Balek J, Možný M, Cienciala E and others (2020) Observed and expected changes in wildfire-conducive weather and fire events in peri-urban zones and key nature reserves of the Czech Republic. Clim Res 82:33-54.

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