Ecology, meteorology and simulation of large wildland fires
Universitat de Lleida. Departament de Producció Vegetal i Ciència Forestal
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Extreme-temperature events are known to favor large wildland fires and have consequences for human health and mortality, forest disturbance patterns, agricultural productivity, and the economic repercussions of these consequences combined. To gain insight into whether extreme-temperature events are changing in light of global climate dynamics, the annual numbers of high-temperature days (those with temperatures higher than 20, 22.5, and 25 ºC at 850 hPa) were analyzed across southern Europe from the years 1978 to 2012. A significant increase in the frequency of these days was found in many areas over the time period analyzed, and patterns in the spatial distribution of these changes were identified. Additionally, this work analyzes the effects of high temperature days on medium and large fires from 1978 to 2010 in Spain and other areas (Sardinia, Italy). A high temperature day was defined as being when air temperature at 850 hPa was higher than the 95th percentile of air temperature at that elevation from June to September across the study period. Temperature at 850 hPa was chosen because it properly characterizes the state of the lower troposphere. The effects of high temperature on forest fires were remarkable and significant in terms of fire number (15 % of total large fires occurred under high temperature days), burned area (25 % of the total burned area occurred under high temperature days). Fire size was also significantly higher under 95th percentile air temperature at 850 hPa and a large part of the largest fires in the past 20 years were under these extreme conditions. Additionally, both burned area and fire number only decreased under non-high temperature days in the study period and not under high temperature conditions. The worst consequence of wildland fires is the loss of human lives, a regular phenomenon over the last few decades worldwide. This work analyzes all recorded wildland fires in Spain with victims between 1980 and 2010. We classified causality causes during wildland fires to study the most frequent causes of fatalities and how they were related to regions, fire size, and extreme weather conditions (i.e., high temperature days). Trends in number of both injured and killed individuals were analyzed. We observed that the annual number of victims did not decrease in the study period. Entrapment is the most frequent cause of death within the fire suppression employees. Fire size is a key factor in the occurrence of victims because 95% of fatalities in wildland fires (not counting aerial casualties) happened in fires larger than 100 ha. High temperature days also were important because 60% of entrapments were produced in this kind of days.
European research projects
- Tesis Doctorals 
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Cardil Forradellas, Adrián; Merenciano, David; Molina Terrén, Domingo (Italian Society of Silviculture and Forest Ecology, 2016)Understanding instrumental factors dealing with the development of large wildland fires is a need. Fire spread typologies and extreme temperature days were studied in the 1978-2012 period in Aragón (NE Spain). Temperature ...
Molina Terrén, Domingo; Cardil Forradellas, Adrián; Spano, Donatella; Salis, Michele; Delogu, Giuseppe (Italian Society of Silviculture and Forest Ecology (SISEF), 2014)Heat-wave events are commonly recognized as adverse impacts on agriculture, forests, and economic activities. Several studies showed that future climate changes in the western Mediterranean Basin will lead to an increase ...
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