Full Citation: Crimmins, Michael A.; Comrie, Andrew C. 2004. Interactions between antecedent climate and wildfire variability across south-eastern Arizona. International Journal of Wildland Fire 13(4):455-466.
External Identifier(s): 10.1071/WF03064 Digital Object Identifier
Location: Arizona, U.S.
Ecosystem types: Gradient; desert scrub; desert grassland; oak woodland; mixed-conifer; montane fir; subalpine forest
Southwest FireCLIME Keywords: None
FRAMES Keywords: Arizona, coniferous forests, dendrochronology, droughts, ecosystem dynamics, elevation, ENSO - El Nino Southern Oscillation, Eragrostis lehmanniana, fine fuels, fire frequency, fire management, fire size, forest management, fuel loading, fuel management, fuel moisture, fuel types, grasslands, heavy fuels, Pinus ponderosa, precipitation, range management, season of fire, statistical analysis, temperature, wildfires, climate-fire interactions, total area burned, number of fires

Interactions between antecedent climate and wildfire variability across south-eastern Arizona

Michael A. Crimmins, Andrew C. Comrie


Summary - what did the authors do and why?

The authors studied the relationship between antecedent climate conditions (temperature, precipitation, and PDSI) at specific lags and wildfire activity from low to high elevation.


Publication findings:

The authors found that across the gradient, total area burned is significantly correlated to moisture-related (except actual precipitation) factors in the year(s) previous to the fire season. The authors suggest that this is related to the increase in fine fuel production. The lags between high and low elevation sites, however, differed. Low elevation sites were associated with wet antecedent conditions up until the fire season, whereas high elevation sites were associated with wet condition up to 3 years prior. However, the authors did not find any correlations between total precipitation and fire at any yearly or seasonal lags. They also found that drought was not necessarily associated with increased fire activity and that in certain vegetation types, fuels dry sufficiently to burn under natural conditions.

Climate and Fire Linkages

The authors found that across the gradient, total area burned is significantly correlated to moisture-related (except actual precipitation) factors in the year(s) previous to the fire season. The authors suggest that this is related to the increase in fine fuel production. The lags between high and low elevation sites, however, differed. Low elevation sites were associated with wet antecedent conditions up until the fire season, whereas high elevation sites were associated with wet condition up to 3 years prior. However, the authors did not find any correlations between total precipitation and fire at any yearly or seasonal lags. They also found that drought was not necessarily associated with increased fire activity and that in certain vegetation types, fuels dry sufficiently to burn under natural conditions.

The authors found that across the gradient, total area burned is significantly correlated to moisture-related (except actual precipitation) factors in the year(s) previous to the fire season. The authors suggest that this is related to the increase in fine fuel production. The lags between high and low elevation sites, however, differed. Low elevation sites were associated with wet antecedent conditions up until the fire season, whereas high elevation sites were associated with wet condition up to 3 years prior. However, the authors did not find any correlations between total precipitation and fire at any yearly or seasonal lags.