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Future changes in climatic water balance determine potential for transformational shifts in Australian fire regimes


Boer, MM and Bowman, DMJS and Murphy, BP and Cary, GJ and Cochrane, MA and Fensham, RJ and Krawchuk, MA and Price, OF and Resco De Dios, V and Williams, RJ and Bradstock, RA, Future changes in climatic water balance determine potential for transformational shifts in Australian fire regimes, Environmental Research Letters, 11, (6) Article 065002. ISSN 1748-9326 (2016) [Refereed Article]


Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 IOP Publishing Ltd. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0)

DOI: doi:10.1088/1748-9326/11/6/065002


Most studies of climate change effects on fire regimes assume a gradual reorganization of pyrogeographic patterns and have not considered the potential for transformational changes in the climate-vegetation-fire relationships underlying continental-scale fire regimes. Here, we model current fire activity levels in Australia as a function of mean annual actual evapotranspiration (E) and potential evapotranspiration (E0), as proxies for fuel productivity and fuel drying potential. We distinguish two domains in E, E0 space according to the dominant constraint on fire activity being either fuel productivity (PL-type fire) or fuel dryness (DL-type fire) and show that the affinity to these domains is related to fuel type. We propose to assess the potential for transformational shifts in fire type from the difference in the affinity to either domain under a baseline climate and projected future climate. Under the projected climate changes potential for a transformational shift from DL- to PL-type fire was predicted for mesic savanna woodland in the north and for eucalypt forests in coastal areas of the south–west and along the Continental Divide in the south-east of the continent. Potential for a shift from PL- to DL-type fire was predicted for a narrow zone of eucalypt savanna woodland in the north-east.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:climate change, climatic water balance, fire regimes, fuel type, transformation, tree cover
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Ecology
Research Field:Terrestrial ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Effects of climate change on Australia (excl. social impacts)
UTAS Author:Bowman, DMJS (Professor David Bowman)
ID Code:113184
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:37
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2016-12-15
Last Modified:2017-11-01
Downloads:145 View Download Statistics

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