Nov 23, 2010

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

Luís Costa, Kirsten Thonicke, Benjamin Poulter, Franz-W. Badeck
Regional Environmental Change
  • States that within the changing fire regimes of Portugal, the relative importance of humans and climatic variability for regional fire statistics remains poorly understood
  • 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
  • Observes moderate shifts in the significance of fire drivers for the first two decadal periods in 10 of 15 districts
  • Finds pronounced changes of the significance of fire drivers 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
  • Finds that at country level, population density alone explained 42% of the inter-annual and inter-district deviance in number of fires
  • Results show that at the same temporal and spatial scale, the explanatory power of temperature anomalies proved to explain 43% of area burnt