Will climate change overwhelm fire management capacity?
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Justin J. Podur; B. Michael Wotton
Publication Year: 2010

Cataloging Information

  • area burned
  • boreal forests
  • Canada
  • climate change
  • droughts
  • duff
  • fine fuels
  • fire frequency
  • fire growth
  • fire management
  • fire size
  • fire suppression
  • fire suppression
  • forest fires
  • forest management
  • fuel moisture
  • general circulation model
  • lightning caused fires
  • moisture
  • Ontario
  • rate of spread
  • suppression
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: February 9, 2022
FRAMES Record Number: 48699
Tall Timbers Record Number: 24885
TTRS Location Status: Not in file
TTRS Call Number: Not in File
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Using anomalies calculated from General Circulation Model (GCM) climate predictions we developed scenarios of future fire weather, fuel moisture and fire occurrence and used these as the inputs to a fire growth and suppression simulation model for the province of Ontario, Canada. The goal of this study was to combine GCM predictions with the fire growth and suppression model to examine potential changes in area burned in Ontario due to climate change, while accounting for the large fire suppression activities of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (OMNR). Results indicate a doubling of area burned in the Intensive and Measured fire management zones of Ontario by the decade of 2040 and an eightfold increase in area burned by the end of the 21st century in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on Emissions Scenarios (IPCC SRES) A2 scenario; smaller increases were found for the A1b and B1 scenarios. These changes are driven by increased fire weather conducive to large fire growth, and increases in the number of fires escaping initial attack: for the Canadian GCM's business-as-usual (A2) scenario, escaped fire frequency increased by 34% by 2040 and 92% by the end of the 21st century. Incorporating more detail on large fire growth than previous studies, our model predicts higher area burned under climate change than do these previous studies, as large numbers of high-intensity fires overwhelm suppression capacity. © 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Podur, J., and M. Wotton. 2010. Will climate change overwhelm fire management capacity? Ecological Modelling, v. 221, no. 9, p. 1301-1309. 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2010.01.013.