Multi-Disciplinary Forest Fire Danger Assessment in Europe: The Potential to Integrate Long-Term Drought Information

Barbara Hofer, Hugo Carrão, Daniel McInerney


A key motivation for multi-disciplinary collaborations is the inclusion of data and knowledge from contributing disciplines for the further development of existing models. The objective of this research is to evaluate the potential of using drought information from the European Drought Observatory (EDO) to complement the forest fire danger assessment of the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS). Drought conditions are provided through the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI), which is a spatially invariant and probabilistic year-round index based on precipitation alone. For verifying the hypothesis that drought information can improve the danger assessment of forest fires, we statistically analyse the correspondence between multi-timescale drought condition information with the incidence of forest fires. Within this paper, we perform a detailed comparative analysis of the SPI frequencies for burnt areas with the respective SPI frequencies for the total study area during the same period. The research is carried out in the Iberian Peninsula for the reference year 2009, using the burnt areas mapped by the EFFIS Rapid Damage Assessment. The results clearly show that the frequencies of burnt areas in Iberian Peninsula relate to the regions with abnormal 24-month accumulated precipitation totals, as mapped by the SPI. This suggests that the long-term lack of water contributes to vegetation dryness in the region and thereby increases its risk of fire danger. The added value of including drought information in the fire danger assessment lies in particular outside the forest fire season, when it provides complementary information on areas under risk that are not necessarily marked with a high fire risk following the risk assessment of EFFIS. Based on the results of the study, we suggest an operational integration of drought information coming from EDO into EFFIS using the existing web service infrastructure.


forest fire danger assessment, drought, web service infrastructure, multi-disciplinary research

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