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Reconstructing seasonal fire danger in southeastern Australia using tree rings


Allen, K and Stewart, SB and Tozer, C and Richardson, D and Nitschke, C and Risbey, J and Dowdy, A and Brookhouse, M and Fox-Hughes, P and Peterson, M and Baker, PJ, Reconstructing seasonal fire danger in southeastern Australia using tree rings, International Journal of Wildland Fire, 31, (6) pp. 559-571. ISSN 1049-8001 (2022) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2022 The Author(s) (or their employer(s)). Published by CSIRO Publishing on behalf of IAWF.

DOI: doi:10.1071/WF21072


Climate projections indicate that dangerous fire weather will become more common over the coming century. We examine the potential of a network of temperature- and moisture-sensitive tree-ring sites in southeastern Australia to reconstruct the number of high fire-danger days for the January–March season. Using the Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI), we show that modestly statistically skilful reconstructions for the far southeast of Australia (western Tasmania), where the majority of tree-ring predictors are located, can be developed. According to the averaged reconstructions for the 1590–2008 period, there have been 16 years prior to the start of the FFDI records (1950), and 7 years since 1950, with >48 (mean + 1σ) high fire-danger days in the 3-month season. The western Tasmanian reconstructions indicate extended relatively high fire-danger periods in the 1650s–1660s and 1880s–1890s. Fire danger has also been relatively high since 2000 CE. A persistent increase in the number of high fire-danger days over the past four decades has not been matched over the previous 390 years. This work indicates it is possible to produce statistically useful reconstructions of high seasonal fire danger – as opposed to fire occurrence – but that availability of local proxy records is key.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:fire, climate change, Forest Fire Danger Index, palaeoproxy fire records, Tasmania, drought factor
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Physical geography and environmental geoscience
Research Field:Palaeoclimatology
Objective Division:Environmental Policy, Climate Change and Natural Hazards
Objective Group:Natural hazards
Objective Field:Climatological hazards (e.g. extreme temperatures, drought and wildfires)
UTAS Author:Allen, K (Dr Kathy Allen)
ID Code:150038
Year Published:2022
Funding Support:Australian Research Council (FT200100102)
Deposited By:Geography and Spatial Science
Deposited On:2022-05-13
Last Modified:2022-08-04

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