Interannual variations in fire weather, fire extent, and synoptic-scale circulation patterns in northern California and Oregon

Valerie M Trouet, Alan H. Taylor, Andrew M. Carleton, Carl N. Skinner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

47 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The Mediterranean climate region on the west coast of the United States is characterized by wet winters and dry summers, and by high fire activity. The importance of synoptic-scale circulation patterns (ENSO, PDO, PNA) on fire-climate interactions is evident in contemporary fire data sets and in pre-Euroamerican tree-ring-based fire records. We investigated how interannual variability in two fire weather indices, the Haines index (HI) and the Energy Release Component (ERC), in the Mediterranean region of southern Oregon and northern California is related to atmospheric circulation and fire extent. Years with high and low fire weather index values corresponded to years with a high and low annual area burned, respectively. HI combines atmospheric moisture with atmospheric instability and variation in HI was more strongly associated with interannual variation in wildfire extent than ERC, which is based on moisture alone. The association between fire extent and HI was also higher for fires in southern Oregon than in northern California. In terms of synoptic-scale circulation patterns, years of high fire risk (i.e., increased potential for erratic fire behavior, represented by HI and ERC) were associated with positive winter PNA and PDO conditions, characterized by enhanced regional mid-tropospheric ridging and low atmospheric moisture. The time lag we found between fire risk potential and prior winter circulation patterns could contribute to the development of long-lead fire-climate forecasting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-360
Number of pages12
JournalTheoretical and Applied Climatology
Volume95
Issue number3-4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

annual variation
weather
atmospheric moisture
winter
energy
fire behavior
climate
erratic
index
tree ring
wildfire
atmospheric circulation
El Nino-Southern Oscillation
moisture
coast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

Cite this

Interannual variations in fire weather, fire extent, and synoptic-scale circulation patterns in northern California and Oregon. / Trouet, Valerie M; Taylor, Alan H.; Carleton, Andrew M.; Skinner, Carl N.

In: Theoretical and Applied Climatology, Vol. 95, No. 3-4, 2009, p. 349-360.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{77d2d19144d049ab91cd934d227feeb4,
title = "Interannual variations in fire weather, fire extent, and synoptic-scale circulation patterns in northern California and Oregon",
abstract = "The Mediterranean climate region on the west coast of the United States is characterized by wet winters and dry summers, and by high fire activity. The importance of synoptic-scale circulation patterns (ENSO, PDO, PNA) on fire-climate interactions is evident in contemporary fire data sets and in pre-Euroamerican tree-ring-based fire records. We investigated how interannual variability in two fire weather indices, the Haines index (HI) and the Energy Release Component (ERC), in the Mediterranean region of southern Oregon and northern California is related to atmospheric circulation and fire extent. Years with high and low fire weather index values corresponded to years with a high and low annual area burned, respectively. HI combines atmospheric moisture with atmospheric instability and variation in HI was more strongly associated with interannual variation in wildfire extent than ERC, which is based on moisture alone. The association between fire extent and HI was also higher for fires in southern Oregon than in northern California. In terms of synoptic-scale circulation patterns, years of high fire risk (i.e., increased potential for erratic fire behavior, represented by HI and ERC) were associated with positive winter PNA and PDO conditions, characterized by enhanced regional mid-tropospheric ridging and low atmospheric moisture. The time lag we found between fire risk potential and prior winter circulation patterns could contribute to the development of long-lead fire-climate forecasting.",
author = "Trouet, {Valerie M} and Taylor, {Alan H.} and Carleton, {Andrew M.} and Skinner, {Carl N.}",
year = "2009",
doi = "10.1007/s00704-008-0012-x",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "95",
pages = "349--360",
journal = "Theorectical and Applied Climatology",
issn = "0177-798X",
publisher = "Springer Wien",
number = "3-4",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Interannual variations in fire weather, fire extent, and synoptic-scale circulation patterns in northern California and Oregon

AU - Trouet, Valerie M

AU - Taylor, Alan H.

AU - Carleton, Andrew M.

AU - Skinner, Carl N.

PY - 2009

Y1 - 2009

N2 - The Mediterranean climate region on the west coast of the United States is characterized by wet winters and dry summers, and by high fire activity. The importance of synoptic-scale circulation patterns (ENSO, PDO, PNA) on fire-climate interactions is evident in contemporary fire data sets and in pre-Euroamerican tree-ring-based fire records. We investigated how interannual variability in two fire weather indices, the Haines index (HI) and the Energy Release Component (ERC), in the Mediterranean region of southern Oregon and northern California is related to atmospheric circulation and fire extent. Years with high and low fire weather index values corresponded to years with a high and low annual area burned, respectively. HI combines atmospheric moisture with atmospheric instability and variation in HI was more strongly associated with interannual variation in wildfire extent than ERC, which is based on moisture alone. The association between fire extent and HI was also higher for fires in southern Oregon than in northern California. In terms of synoptic-scale circulation patterns, years of high fire risk (i.e., increased potential for erratic fire behavior, represented by HI and ERC) were associated with positive winter PNA and PDO conditions, characterized by enhanced regional mid-tropospheric ridging and low atmospheric moisture. The time lag we found between fire risk potential and prior winter circulation patterns could contribute to the development of long-lead fire-climate forecasting.

AB - The Mediterranean climate region on the west coast of the United States is characterized by wet winters and dry summers, and by high fire activity. The importance of synoptic-scale circulation patterns (ENSO, PDO, PNA) on fire-climate interactions is evident in contemporary fire data sets and in pre-Euroamerican tree-ring-based fire records. We investigated how interannual variability in two fire weather indices, the Haines index (HI) and the Energy Release Component (ERC), in the Mediterranean region of southern Oregon and northern California is related to atmospheric circulation and fire extent. Years with high and low fire weather index values corresponded to years with a high and low annual area burned, respectively. HI combines atmospheric moisture with atmospheric instability and variation in HI was more strongly associated with interannual variation in wildfire extent than ERC, which is based on moisture alone. The association between fire extent and HI was also higher for fires in southern Oregon than in northern California. In terms of synoptic-scale circulation patterns, years of high fire risk (i.e., increased potential for erratic fire behavior, represented by HI and ERC) were associated with positive winter PNA and PDO conditions, characterized by enhanced regional mid-tropospheric ridging and low atmospheric moisture. The time lag we found between fire risk potential and prior winter circulation patterns could contribute to the development of long-lead fire-climate forecasting.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=62249153334&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=62249153334&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1007/s00704-008-0012-x

DO - 10.1007/s00704-008-0012-x

M3 - Article

VL - 95

SP - 349

EP - 360

JO - Theorectical and Applied Climatology

JF - Theorectical and Applied Climatology

SN - 0177-798X

IS - 3-4

ER -