Journal cover Journal topic
Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2017-415
© Author(s) 2017. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Research article
06 Dec 2017
Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).
Extreme Wildfire occurrence in response to Global Change type Droughts in the Northern Mediterranean
Julien Ruffault1,2,3, Thomas Curt1, Nicolas K. Martin St-Paul4, Vincent Moron2,5, and Ricardo M. Trigo6 1IRSTEA, UR RECOVER Aix-en-Provence, France
2CEREGE UM 34 CNRS, Aix-en-Provence, France

3IMBE, Aix Marseille Université, CNRS, IRD, Avignon Université, Marseille, France
4INRA, URFM, Avignon, France
5IRI, Columbia University, Palisades, USA
6Instituto Dom Luiz (IDL), Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal
Abstract. Increasing drought conditions under global warming are expected to alter the frequency and distribution of large, high intensity wildfires. Yet, little is known regarding how it will affect fire weather and translate into wildfire behaviour. Here, we analysed the climatology of extreme wildfires that occurred during the exceptionally dry summers of 2003 and 2016 in Mediterranean France. We identified two distinct shifts in fire climatology towards fire weather spaces that had not been explored before, and which result from specific interactions between the types of drought and the types of fire. In 2016, a long-lasting press drought intensified wind-driven fires. In 2003, a hot drought combining a heatwave with a press drought intensified heat-driven fires. Our findings highlight that increasing drought conditions projected by climate change scenarios might affect the dryness of fuel compartments and create several new generations of wildfire overwhelming fire suppression capacities.

Citation: Ruffault, J., Curt, T., Martin St-Paul, N. K., Moron, V., and Trigo, R. M.: Extreme Wildfire occurrence in response to Global Change type Droughts in the Northern Mediterranean, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2017-415, in review, 2017.
Julien Ruffault et al.
Julien Ruffault et al.
Julien Ruffault et al.

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Short summary
As other euro-Mediterranean countries, France experienced several large and disastrous wildfires recently, in particular during the 2003 and 2016 summers. We found that these fires were associated to two extreme climatic events whose frequencies are both expected to increase with global changes: a heatwave and a long, intense drought. These results suggest that extreme wildfire likely to become more common in the future and will certainly challenge fire management and suppression capacities.
As other euro-Mediterranean countries, France experienced several large and disastrous wildfires...
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