Synoptic climatology of extreme fire-weather conditions across the southwest United States

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61 Scopus citations

Abstract

Extreme fire-weather conditions are usually thought of as discrete events rather than part of a continuum of meteorological and climatological variability. This study uses a synoptic climatological approach (weather typing) to examine the seasonal climatology of extreme fire-weather conditions across the southwest United States (Arizona and New Mexico) during the period of 1988-2003. Three key circulation patterns representing broad southwesterly flow and large geopotential height gradients are associated with over 80% of the extreme fire-weather days identified in this study. Seasonal changes in relative humidity levels, strength of height gradient, and geopotential heights all modulate the relationship between these key circulation patterns and extreme fire-weather days. Examination of daily incident summaries for three recent wildfires (May 2000, June 2002 and June 2003) shows that wildfire activity can be strongly regulated by these critical fire-weather circulation patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1001-1016
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Climatology
Volume26
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 30 2006

Keywords

  • Fire weather
  • Self-organizing maps
  • Southwest United States
  • Synoptic weather types
  • Wildfires

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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