Advanced

Demographic controls of future global fire risk

Knorr, W. LU ; Arneth, A. LU and Jiang, L. (2016) In Nature Climate Change 6(8). p.781-785
Abstract

Wildfires are an important component of terrestrial ecosystem ecology but also a major natural hazard to societies, and their frequency and spatial distribution must be better understood. At a given location, risk from wildfire is associated with the annual fraction of burned area, which is expected to increase in response to climate warming. Until recently, however, only a few global studies of future fire have considered the effects of other important global environmental change factors such as atmospheric CO2 levels and human activities, and how these influence fires in different regions. Here, we contrast the impact of climate change and increasing atmospheric CO2 content on burned area with that of demographic... (More)

Wildfires are an important component of terrestrial ecosystem ecology but also a major natural hazard to societies, and their frequency and spatial distribution must be better understood. At a given location, risk from wildfire is associated with the annual fraction of burned area, which is expected to increase in response to climate warming. Until recently, however, only a few global studies of future fire have considered the effects of other important global environmental change factors such as atmospheric CO2 levels and human activities, and how these influence fires in different regions. Here, we contrast the impact of climate change and increasing atmospheric CO2 content on burned area with that of demographic dynamics, using ensembles of climate simulations combined with historical and projected population changes under different socio-economic development pathways for 1901-2100. Historically, humans notably suppressed wildfires. For future scenarios, global burned area will continue to decline under a moderate emissions scenario, except for low population growth and fast urbanization, but start to increase again from around mid-century under high greenhouse gas emissions. Contrary to common perception, we find that human exposure to wildfires increases in the future mainly owing to projected population growth in areas with frequent wildfires, rather than by a general increase in burned area.

(Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Nature Climate Change
volume
6
issue
8
pages
5 pages
publisher
Nature Publishing Group
external identifiers
  • scopus:84979747808
  • wos:000382134800017
ISSN
1758-678X
DOI
10.1038/nclimate2999
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
2a2b8df8-3360-4907-aba4-b4a2b1041a64
date added to LUP
2016-12-15 13:26:53
date last changed
2017-11-05 05:11:11
@article{2a2b8df8-3360-4907-aba4-b4a2b1041a64,
  abstract     = {<p>Wildfires are an important component of terrestrial ecosystem ecology but also a major natural hazard to societies, and their frequency and spatial distribution must be better understood. At a given location, risk from wildfire is associated with the annual fraction of burned area, which is expected to increase in response to climate warming. Until recently, however, only a few global studies of future fire have considered the effects of other important global environmental change factors such as atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub> levels and human activities, and how these influence fires in different regions. Here, we contrast the impact of climate change and increasing atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub> content on burned area with that of demographic dynamics, using ensembles of climate simulations combined with historical and projected population changes under different socio-economic development pathways for 1901-2100. Historically, humans notably suppressed wildfires. For future scenarios, global burned area will continue to decline under a moderate emissions scenario, except for low population growth and fast urbanization, but start to increase again from around mid-century under high greenhouse gas emissions. Contrary to common perception, we find that human exposure to wildfires increases in the future mainly owing to projected population growth in areas with frequent wildfires, rather than by a general increase in burned area.</p>},
  author       = {Knorr, W. and Arneth, A. and Jiang, L.},
  issn         = {1758-678X},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {08},
  number       = {8},
  pages        = {781--785},
  publisher    = {Nature Publishing Group},
  series       = {Nature Climate Change},
  title        = {Demographic controls of future global fire risk},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2999},
  volume       = {6},
  year         = {2016},
}