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Attribution of the role of climate change in the forest fires in Sweden 2018

Krikken, Folmer and Lehner, Flavio and Haustein, Karsten and Drobyshev, Igor and van Oldenborgh, Geert Jan (2021). Attribution of the role of climate change in the forest fires in Sweden 2018. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences. 21 , 2169-2179
[Research article]

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Abstract

In this study, we analyse the role of climate change in the forest fires that raged through large parts of Sweden in the summer of 2018 from a meteorological perspective. This is done by studying the Canadian Fire Weather Index (FWI) based on sub-daily data, both in reanalysis data sets (ERA-Interim, ERA5, the Japanese 55 year Reanalysis, JRA-55, and Modern-Era Retrospective analysis for Research and Applications version 2, MERRA-2) and three large-ensemble climate models (EC-Earth, weather@home, W@H, and Community Earth System Model, CESM) simulations. The FWI, based on reanalysis, correlates well with the observed burnt area in summer (r = 0.6 to 0.8). We find that the maximum FWI in July 2018 had return times of similar to 24 years (90% CI, confidence interval, > 10 years) for southern and northern Sweden. Furthermore, we find a negative trend of the FWI for southern Sweden over the 1979 to 2017 time period in the reanalyses, yielding a non-significant reduced probability of such an event. However, the short observational record, large uncertainty between the reanalysis products and large natural variability of the FWI give a large confidence interval around this number that easily includes no change, so we cannot draw robust conclusions from reanalysis data.The three large-ensembles with climate models point to a roughly 1.1 (0.9 to 1.4) times increased probability (non-significant) for such events in the current climate relative to preindustrial climate. For a future climate (2 degrees C warming), we find a roughly 2 (1.5 to 3) times increased probability for such events relative to the preindustrial climate. The increased fire weather risk is mainly attributed to the increase in temperature. The other main factor, i.e. precipitation during summer months, is projected to increase for northern Sweden and decrease for southern Sweden. We, however, do not find a clear change in prolonged dry periods in summer months that could explain the increased fire weather risk in the climate models.In summary, we find a (non-significant) reduced probability of such events based on reanalyses, a small (nonsignificant) increased probability due to global warming up to now and a more robust (significant) increase in the risk for such events in the future based on the climate models.

Authors/Creators:Krikken, Folmer and Lehner, Flavio and Haustein, Karsten and Drobyshev, Igor and van Oldenborgh, Geert Jan
Title:Attribution of the role of climate change in the forest fires in Sweden 2018
Series Name/Journal:Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences
Year of publishing :2021
Volume:21
Page range:2169-2179
Number of Pages:11
Publisher:COPERNICUS GESELLSCHAFT MBH
ISSN:1561-8633
Language:English
Publication Type:Research article
Article category:Scientific peer reviewed
Version:Published version
Copyright:Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0
Full Text Status:Public
Subjects:(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 4 Agricultural Sciences > 401 Agricultural, Forestry and Fisheries > Forest Science
(A) Swedish standard research categories 2011 > 1 Natural sciences > 105 Earth and Related Environmental Sciences > Climate Research
URN:NBN:urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-113153
Permanent URL:
http://urn.kb.se/resolve?urn=urn:nbn:se:slu:epsilon-p-113153
Additional ID:
Type of IDID
DOI10.5194/nhess-21-2169-2021
Web of Science (WoS)000674944400001
ID Code:25083
Faculty:S - Faculty of Forest Sciences
Department:(S) > Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre
Deposited By: SLUpub Connector
Deposited On:30 Aug 2021 05:25
Metadata Last Modified:30 Aug 2021 05:31

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