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Type: Journal Article
Author(s): B. Michael Wotton; Michael D. Flannigan; Ginny A. Marshall
Publication Date: 2017

Much research has been carried out on the potential impacts of climate change on forest fire activity in the boreal forest. Indeed, there is a general consensus that, while change will vary regionally across the vast extent of the boreal, in general the fire environment will become more conducive to fire. Land management agencies must consider ways to adapt to these new conditions. This paper examines the impact of that changed fire environment on overall wildfire suppression capability. We use multiple General Circulation Models and carbon emission pathways to generate future fire environment scenarios for Canada's forested region. We then use these scenarios with the Canadian Forest Fire Behaviour Prediction System and spatial coverages of the current forest fuel composition across the landscape to examine potential variation in key fire behaviour outputs that influence whether fire management resources can effectively suppress fire. Specifically, we evaluate how the potential for crown fire occurrence and active growth of fires changes with the changing climate. We also examine future fire behaviour through the lens of operational fire intensity thresholds used to guide decisions about resources effectiveness. Results indicate that the proportion of days in fire seasons with the potential for unmanageable fire will increase across Canada's forest, more than doubling in some regions in northern and eastern boreal forest.

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Citation: Wotton, B. Michael; Flannigan, Michael D.; Marshall, Ginny A. 2017. Potential climate change impacts on fire intensity and key wildfire suppression thresholds in Canada. Environmental Research Letters 12(9):095003.

Cataloging Information

Climate    Fire Behavior    Fire Prevention    Fuels    Models
  • Canada
  • climate change
  • crown fire
  • crowning
  • fire growth
  • fire intensity
  • fire season length
  • fire suppression
  • fireline intensity
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Record Maintained By: FRAMES Staff (
FRAMES Record Number: 25839