Identifying Local-Scale Weather Forcing Conditions Favorable to Generating Iberia’s Largest Fires

Vieira I., Russo A., Trigo R.M.
Forests 11(5), 547

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The Mediterranean region is characterized by the frequent occurrence of summer wildfires, representing an environmental and socioeconomic burden. Some Mediterranean countries (or provinces) are particularly prone to large fires, namely Portugal, Galicia (Spain), Greece, and southern France. Additionally, the Mediterranean basin corresponds to a major hotspot of climate change, and anthropogenic warming is expected to increase the total burned area due to fires in Mediterranean Europe. Here, we propose to classify summer large fires for fifty-four provinces of the Iberian Peninsula according to their local-scale weather conditions and fire danger weather conditions. A composite analysis was used to investigate the impact of local and regional climate drivers at different timescales, and to identify distinct climatologies associated with the occurrence of large fires. Cluster analysis was also used to identify a limited set of fire weather types, each characterized by a combination of meteorological conditions. For each of the provinces, two significant fire weather types were identified—one dominated by high positive temperature anomalies and negative humidity anomalies, and the other by intense zonal wind anomalies with two distinct subtypes in the Iberian Peninsula., allowing for the identification of three distinct regions.