Potential impacts of climate change on wildfire dynamics in the midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Potential impacts of climate change on wildfire dynamics in the midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, South... The influence of climate change on wildfires has been studied at a global scale, but uncertainties on the influence at regional and hyper-regional level still exist. As the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) midlands rely heavily on agro-forestry and tourism to support the local economy, changes in fire dynamics need to be taken into consideration. This study aims to investigate fire dynamics under different climatic scenarios for the KZN midlands, South Africa. Using 25 years of meteorological data allows for the stochastic generation of long-term meteorological data. Six climatic scenarios, describing a warmer and wetter climate and a warmer and drier climate, are used to adjust the generated data. The Lowveld fire danger index is applied to the adjusted data and analysed. Results indicat that annual average fire danger in the KZN midlands is likely to increase significantly under all climate scenarios. Annual average fire danger under baseline conditions (no climate adjustment) averages at roughly 25. When adjusted for the worst case scenario, the annual average fire danger increases to an average of roughly 28—a statistically significant difference. Increased air temperatures are shown to influence fire danger significantly. The KZN midlands are likely to experience an increased frequency of high fire danger days. Changes in daily rainfall are shown to significantly influence the onset and length of the KZN midlands’ fire season. Overall, the study indicates that the KZN midlands are likely to experience different fire dynamics under a changed climate, with significant implications for local landowners and local governments. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Climatic Change Springer Journals

Potential impacts of climate change on wildfire dynamics in the midlands of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Copyright
Copyright © 2017 by Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
Subject
Earth Sciences; Atmospheric Sciences; Climate Change/Climate Change Impacts
ISSN
0165-0009
eISSN
1573-1480
D.O.I.
10.1007/s10584-017-2019-8
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The influence of climate change on wildfires has been studied at a global scale, but uncertainties on the influence at regional and hyper-regional level still exist. As the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) midlands rely heavily on agro-forestry and tourism to support the local economy, changes in fire dynamics need to be taken into consideration. This study aims to investigate fire dynamics under different climatic scenarios for the KZN midlands, South Africa. Using 25 years of meteorological data allows for the stochastic generation of long-term meteorological data. Six climatic scenarios, describing a warmer and wetter climate and a warmer and drier climate, are used to adjust the generated data. The Lowveld fire danger index is applied to the adjusted data and analysed. Results indicat that annual average fire danger in the KZN midlands is likely to increase significantly under all climate scenarios. Annual average fire danger under baseline conditions (no climate adjustment) averages at roughly 25. When adjusted for the worst case scenario, the annual average fire danger increases to an average of roughly 28—a statistically significant difference. Increased air temperatures are shown to influence fire danger significantly. The KZN midlands are likely to experience an increased frequency of high fire danger days. Changes in daily rainfall are shown to significantly influence the onset and length of the KZN midlands’ fire season. Overall, the study indicates that the KZN midlands are likely to experience different fire dynamics under a changed climate, with significant implications for local landowners and local governments.

Journal

Climatic ChangeSpringer Journals

Published: Jul 5, 2017

References

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