Forest fires and adaptation options in Europe

Khabarov, N. ORCID:, Krasovskii, A.A. ORCID:, Obersteiner, M. ORCID:, Swart, R., Dosio, A., San-Miguel-Ayanz, J., Durrant, T., Camia, A., et al. (2016). Forest fires and adaptation options in Europe. Regional Environmental Change 16 (1) 21-30. 10.1007/s10113-014-0621-0.

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Project: The terrestrial Carbon cycle under Climate Variability and Extremes – a Pan-European synthesis (CARBO-EXTREME, FP7 226701), Quantifying projected impacts under 2°C warming (IMPACT2C, FP7 282746), Economics of climate change adaptation in Europe (ECONADAPT, FP7 603906)


This paper presents a quantitative assessment of adaptation options in the context of forest fires in Europe under projected climate change. A standalone fire model (SFM) based on a state-of-the-art large-scale forest fire modelling algorithm is used to explore fuel removal through prescribed burnings and improved fire suppression as adaptation options. The climate change projections are provided by three climate models reflecting the SRES A2 scenario. The SFM's modelled burned areas for selected test countries in Europe show satisfying agreement with observed data coming from two different sources (European Forest Fire Information System and Global Fire Emissions Database). Our estimation of the potential increase in burned areas in Europe under "no adaptation" scenario is about 200% by 2090 (compared with 2000-2008). The application of prescribed burnings has the potential to keep that increase below 50%. Improvements in fire suppression might reduce this impact even further, e.g. boosting the probability of putting out a fire within a day by 10% would result in about a 30% decrease in annual burned areas. By taking more adaptation options into consideration, such as using agricultural fields as fire breaks, behavioural changes, and long-term options, burned areas can be potentially reduced further than projected in our analysis.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Forest fires; Europe; Adaptation; Climate change
Research Programs: Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM)
Bibliographic Reference: Regional Environmental Change; 16(1):21-30 [January 2016] (Published online 7 September 2014)
Depositing User: IIASA Import
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 08:54
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:25

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