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Sensitivity of Portuguese forest fires to climatic, human, and landscape variables: subnational differences between fire drivers in extreme fire years and decadal averages (2011)

Description

Within the changing fire regimes of Portugal, the relative importance of humans and climatic variability for regional fire statistics remains poorly understood. This work investigates the statistical relationship between temporal dynamics of fire events in Portugal and a set of socioeconomic, landscape, and climatic variables for the time periods of 1980–1990, 1991–2000, and extreme fires years. For 10 of 15 districts, it was possible to observe moderate shifts in the significance of fire drivers for the first two decadal periods. For others, pronounced changes of the significance of fire drivers were found across time. Results point toward a dynamic (perhaps highly non-linear) behavior of socioeconomic and landscape fire drivers, especially during the occurrence of extreme fire years of 2003 and 2005. At country level, population density alone explained 42% of the inter-annual and inter-district deviance in number of fires. At the same temporal and spatial scale, the explanatory power of temperature anomalies proved to explain 43% of area burnt. We highlight the necessity of including a broad set of socioeconomic and landscape fire drivers in order to account for potential significance shifts. In addition, although climate does trigger broad favorable fire conditions across Portugal mainland, socioeconomic and landscape factors proved to determine much of the complex fire patterns at a subnational scale.

Reference information

Websites:
Source:
Regional Environmental Change Volume 11, Number 3 (2011), 543-551, DOI: 10

Keywords

Climate, Fire drivers, Portugal, Socioeconomic, Wildfires

Climate impacts

Extreme Temperatures, Water Scarcity, Droughts

Elements

Observations and Scenarios, Vulnerability Assessment, Adaptation Measures and Actions

Sectors

Agriculture, Biodiversity, Disaster Risk Reduction, Forestry

Geographic characterisation

Europe

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