Wildfire and Climate

Climate, Forests and Woodlands March 06, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Adapted from: Rogstad, Alix; Crimmins, Michael; and Garfin, Gregg. 2006. Climate change and wildfire impacts in Southwest forests and woodlands. University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Publication No. az1425
Figure 1. Wildfire is a major concern for forest lands impacted by changes in climate. Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Land Management.





Wildfire requires three things to burn: an ignition source, fuel, and oxygen. If one of the three requirements is removed, the fire activity will be limited or nonexistent. Similarly, once a fire has started to burn, its behavior is determined by three factors: fuel (type, quantity, moisture level), topography (slope and aspect), and weather (wind, humidity, and temperature). The specific weather conditions during a fire event greatly influence how the fire burns. It follows that long-term climate variability can influence fire behavior by affecting site-specific fuel conditions (e.g., fuel moisture, type, and arrangement).

Adapted by Tom DeGomez, University of Arizona

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