Characterizing the rate of spread of large wildfires in emerging fire environments of northwestern Europe using visible infrared imaging radiometer suite active fire data

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Cardil Forradellas, AdriánCardil Forradellas, Adrián - ORCID ID
Tapia, Víctor M.
Monedero, Santiago
Quiñones, Tomás
Little, Kerryn
Stoof, Cathelijne R.
Ramirez, Joaquín R
Miguel Magaña, Sergio deMiguel Magaña, Sergio de - ORCID ID
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cc-by (c) Cardil Forradellas et al., 2023
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In recent years fires of greater magnitude have been documented throughout northwest Europe. With several climate projections indicating future increases in fire activity in this temperate area, it is imperative to identify the status of fire in this region. This study unravels unknowns about the state of the fire regime in northwest Europe by characterizing one of the key aspects of fire behavior, the rate of spread (ROS). Using an innovative approach to cluster Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) hotspots into fire perimeter isochrones to derive ROS, we identify the effects of land cover and season on the rate of spread of 102 landscape fires that occurred between 2012 and 2022. Results reveal significant differences between land cover types, and there is a clear peak of ROS and burned area in the months of March and April. Median ROS within these peak months is approximately 0.09 km h−1 during a 12 h overpass, and 66 % of the burned area occurs in this spring period. Heightened ROS and burned area values persist in the bordering months of February and May, suggesting that these months may present the extent of the main fire season in northwest Europe. Accurate data on ROS among the represented land cover types, as well as periods of peak activity, are essential for determining periods of elevated fire risk, the effectiveness of available suppression techniques, and appropriate mitigation strategies (land and fuel management).
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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 2023, vol. 23, núm. 1, p. 361–373