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Southern Annular Mode drives multicentury wildfire activity in southern South America


Holz, A and Paritsis, J and Mundo, IA and Veblen, TT and Kitzberger, T and Williamson, GJ and Araoz, E and Bustos-Schindler, C and Gonzalez, ME and Grau, HR and Quezada, JM, Southern Annular Mode drives multicentury wildfire activity in southern South America, National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America. Proceedings, 114, (36) pp. 9552-9557. ISSN 0027-8424 (2017) [Refereed Article]

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Copyright 2017 National Academy of Sciences.

DOI: doi:10.1073/pnas.1705168114


The Southern Annular Mode (SAM) is the main driver of climate variability at mid to high latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere, affecting wildfire activity, which in turn pollutes the air and contributes to human health problems and mortality, and potentially provides strong feedback to the climate system through emissions and land cover changes. Here we report the largest Southern Hemisphere network of annually resolved tree ring fire histories, consisting of 1,767 fire-scarred trees from 97 sites (from 22 S to 54 S) in southern South America (SAS), to quantify the coupling of SAM and regional wildfire variability using recently created multicentury proxy indices of SAM for the years 15312010 AD. We show that at interannual time scales, as well as at multidecadal time scales across 3754 S, latitudinal gradient elevated wildfire activity is synchronous with positive phases of the SAM over the years 16651995. Positive phases of the SAM are associated primarily with warm conditions in these biomass-rich forests, in which widespread fire activity depends on fuel desiccation. Climate modeling studies indicate that greenhouse gases will force SAM into its positive phase even if stratospheric ozone returns to normal levels, so that climate conditions conducive to widespread fire activity in SAS will continue throughout the 21st century.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:fire, climate, fire scars, AAO, climate modes, synchrony, warming
Research Division:Environmental Sciences
Research Group:Ecological applications
Research Field:Landscape ecology
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Understanding climate change
Objective Field:Climate variability (excl. social impacts)
UTAS Author:Williamson, GJ (Dr Grant Williamson)
ID Code:120315
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:43
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2017-08-22
Last Modified:2018-05-08
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