Global Wildfire Potential
SRS scientists are measuring fire potential using the Keetch-Byram Drought Index. The Index is calculated for present climate conditions through observed maximum temperatures and precipitation, and for future climate conditions through projected end-of-the-century changes projected by general circulation models. The Index shows that future wildfire potential increases significantly in the United States, South America, central Asia, southern Europe, southern Africa, and Australia. The increased fire potential is mainly caused by warming in the United States, South America, and Australia, and by the combination of warming and drying in the other regions. The results can be used by fire ecologists, climatologists, and environmental researchers to further projects on future disturbances in forest composition and structure, regional climate, and air quality, and by policymakers to develop mitigation and adaptation plans to climate change.