Climate change to increase forest fire danger in Europe

Date:

Share post:

Climate change is expected to bring increased temperatures and longer droughts—conditions that will make forests more susceptible to fires.

Climate change to increase forest fire danger in Europe
Climate change is continuing to impact the globe. Now, scientists have found that our 
changing climate may increase forest fires in Europe as temperatures
increase and as droughts stretch on for longer in the future
 [Credit: AP/Nikolas Giakoumidis]

By 2090, the area burned by forest fires in the European Union could increase by 200% because of climate change, according to a new study published in the journal Regional Environmental Change. However, preventive fires could keep that increase to below 50%, the study shows. Improved firefighting response could provide additional protection against forest fires.

The study was the first to examine adaptation to forest fire danger on a pan-European scale. IIASA researchers, together with colleagues from the Joint Research Centre (JRC), worked with national forest representatives in EU countries and the EU Expert Group on Forest Fires to understand fire prevention options and their impacts. While there are many potential options for forest fire management, the researchers focused on two adaptation strategies identified together with the expert stakeholders: prescribed burns and fire suppression.

“There is still a big debate on the effectiveness of prescribed burning as a forest fire management tool. This study shows that it can be a promising option to protect European forests from the impacts of climate change,” says IIASA Ecosystems Services and Management Program Research Scholar Nikolay Khabarov, who led the study.

Fire is a natural part of the ecology of many forests, but when fires get out of control they can burn huge areas and spread to neighboring homes and settlements. Prescribed burns help prevent these major fires by removing dead wood from forests.

The study also examined the potential of better firefighting to additionally help decrease burned areas. However, no study has yet managed to quantify the cost and benefit of such efforts at a continental scale.

“European forests are vital reservoirs for wildlife, for biodiversity, and for our own enjoyment and well-being,” says Khabarov, “We need to find ways to protect them.”

The researchers note that in Europe, over 95% of all forest fires are caused by humans, including negligence when smoking cigarettes, using campfires and other open fires that are not put out properly, and even arson. “In more populous areas, the chance of occurrence of forest fires rises dramatically,” says IIASA researcher Andrey Krasovskii, a study co-author. “We could prevent many of these fires simply by being more responsible.”

Source: International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis [September 08, 2014]

ADVERTISEMENT

spot_img

Related articles

New finds at the Pachacamac sanctuary near Lima, Peru

The Pachacamac archaeological site, located about 40 kilometers southeast of Lima, has yielded some new finds. The wooden carving...

Extinction of Pleistocene herbivores induced major vegetation and landscape changes

The extinction of large herbivores such as mammoths could explain massive prehistoric changes in vegetation and landscape structure....

Pala period Vishnu idol unearthed

A stone idol of Lord Vishnu resembling the idols of Pala and Sen period was recovered from Beldanga...

Shedding new light on the diet of extinct animals

A study of tooth enamel in mammals living today in the equatorial forest of Gabon could ultimately shed...

Horses and rhinos originated on Asian subcontinent while it was still an island

Working at the edge of a coal mine in India, a team of Johns Hopkins researchers and colleagues...

‘Frightening’ findings foretell ills for ecosystems

When it comes to determining the causes negatively affecting the biodiversity of our ecosystems, a new interdisciplinary study...

Prehistoric rodents give clues to evolving man

Rodents get a bad rap as vermin and pests because they seem to thrive everywhere. They have been...

Ancient burial rites at Mangalore

Evidence of a prehistoric burial custom of interring dead persons in earthen pots has been found in various...