Thursday, 15 November 2001: 11:30 AM
Assessing long-term fire danger variability and change from climate model output
The question as to how fire danger is affected strictly by climate variability and trends can be assessed using both historical data and model simulations based on control runs and climate change scenarios. For this analysis we use NCEP/NCAR reanalysis and the Department of Energy (DOE) sponsored parallel climate model (PCM) output to examine indices such as the energy release component, burning index, dead fuel moistures, and staffing levels for the 150 year period 1950-2099 over North America. Daily weather variables from both models are used as input into a modified version of the National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) computer code provided by the U.S. Forest Service Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory. Reanalysis data provide a historical perspective of fire danger variability prior to the present, while PCM output gives simulated climate conditions over an approximately 100 year future period. The PCM control run yields future climate conditions based on 1996 fixed CO2 levels, while other scenarios are also run such as doubled CO2. This paper will present the results of fire danger variability and change based on these model runs, and discuss how this information could be used for long-term planning and decision-making such as fuels treatment strategies and rehabilitation efforts.