Large-scale, dynamic transformations in fuel moisture drivewildfire activity across southeastern Australia
Nolan, Rachel H.
Boer, Matthias M.
Bradstock, Ross A.
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The occurrence of large, high-intensity wildfires requires plant biomass, or fuel, that is sufficientlydry to burn. This poses the question, what is“sufficiently dry”? Until recently, the ability to address this questionhas been constrained by the spatiotemporal scale of available methods to monitor
the moisture contents ofboth dead and live fuels. Here we take advantage of recent developments in macroscale monitoring of fuelmoisture through a combination of remote sensing and climatic modeling. We show there are clear thresholdsof fuel moisture content associated with the occurrence of wildfires in forests and woodlands. Furthermore, weshow that transformations in fuel moisture conditions across these thresholds can occur rapidly, within amonth. Both the approach presented here, and ourfindings, can be immediately applied and may greatlyimprovefire risk assessments in forests and woodlands globally.