Increased likelihood of heat-induced large wildfires in the Mediterranean Basin

Ruffault J., Curt T., Moron V., Trigo R. M., Mouillot F., Koutsias N., Pimont F., Martin-StPaul N., Barbero R., Dupuy J. L., Russo A., Belhadj-Khedher C.
Scientific Reports (Nature Publisher Group), 2020, 10.1.

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Wildfire activity is expected to increase across the Mediterranean Basin because of climate change. However, the effects of future climate change on the combinations of atmospheric conditions that promote wildfire activity remain largely unknown. Using a fire-weather based classification of wildfires, we show that future climate scenarios point to an increase in the frequency of two heat-induced fire-weather types that have been related to the largest wildfires in recent years. Heat-induced fire-weather types are characterized by compound dry and warm conditions occurring during summer heatwaves, either under moderate (heatwave type) or intense (hot drought type) drought. The frequency of heat-induced fire-weather is projected to increase by 14% by the end of the century (20712100) under the RCP4.5 scenario, and by 30% under the RCP8.5, suggesting that the frequency and extent of large wildfires will increase throughout the Mediterranean Basin.