Browsing by Subject "forest fire"

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  • Aalto, Juha; Venäläinen, Ari (Ilmatieteen laitos - Finnish Meteorological Institute, 2021)
    Raportteja - Rapporter - Reports 2021:3
    Forest and wildland fires are a natural part of ecosystems worldwide, but large fires in particular can cause societal, economic and ecological disruption. Fires are an important source of greenhouse gases and black carbon that can further amplify and accelerate climate change. In recent years, large forest fires in Sweden demonstrate that the issue should also be considered in other parts of Fennoscandia. This final report of the project “Forest fires in Fennoscandia under changing climate and forest cover (IBA ForestFires)” funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, synthesises current knowledge of the occurrence, monitoring, modelling and suppression of forest fires in Fennoscandia. The report also focuses on elaborating the role of forest fires as a source of black carbon (BC) emissions over the Arctic and discussing the importance of international collaboration in tackling forest fires. The report explains the factors regulating fire ignition, spread and intensity in Fennoscandian conditions. It highlights that the climate in Fennoscandia is characterised by large inter-annual variability, which is reflected in forest fire risk. Here, the majority of forest fires are caused by human activities such as careless handling of fire and ignitions related to forest harvesting. In addition to weather and climate, fuel characteristics in forests influence fire ignition, intensity and spread. In the report, long-term fire statistics are presented for Finland, Sweden and the Republic of Karelia. The statistics indicate that the amount of annually burnt forest has decreased in Fennoscandia. However, with the exception of recent large fires in Sweden, during the past 25 years the annually burnt area and number of fires have been fairly stable, which is mainly due to effective fire mitigation. Land surface models were used to investigate how climate change and forest management can influence forest fires in the future. The simulations were conducted using different regional climate models and greenhouse gas emission scenarios. Simulations, extending to 2100, indicate that forest fire risk is likely to increase over the coming decades. The report also highlights that globally, forest fires are a significant source of BC in the Arctic, having adverse health effects and further amplifying climate warming. However, simulations made using an atmospheric dispersion model indicate that the impact of forest fires in Fennoscandia on the environment and air quality is relatively minor and highly seasonal. Efficient forest fire mitigation requires the development of forest fire detection tools including satellites and drones, high spatial resolution modelling of fire risk and fire spreading that account for detailed terrain and weather information. Moreover, increasing the general preparedness and operational efficiency of firefighting is highly important. Forest fires are a large challenge requiring multidisciplinary research and close cooperation between the various administrative operators, e.g. rescue services, weather services, forest organisations and forest owners is required at both the national and international level.
  • Aakala, Tuomas; Pasanen, Leena; Helama, Samuli; Vakkari, Ville; Drobyshev, Igor; Seppa, Heikki; Kuuluvainen, Timo; Stivrins, Normunds; Wallenius, Tuomo; Vasander, Harri; Holmstrom, Lasse (2018)
    Forest fires are a key disturbance in boreal forests, and characteristics of fire regimes are among the most important factors explaining the variation in forest structure and species composition. The occurrence of fire is connected with climate, but earlier, mostly local-scale studies in the northern European boreal forests have provided little insight into fire-climate relationship before the modern fire suppression period. Here, we compiled annually resolved fire history, temperature, and precipitation reconstructions from eastern Fennoscandia from the mid-16th century to the end of the 19th century, a period of strong human influence on fires. We used synchrony of fires over the network of 25 fire history reconstructions as a measure of climatic forcing on fires. We examined the relationship between fire occurrence and climate (summer temperature, precipitation, and a drought index summarizing the influence of variability in temperature and precipitation) across temporal scales, using a scale space multiresolution correlation approach and Bayesian inference that accounts for the annually varying uncertainties in climate reconstructions. At the annual scale, fires were synchronized during summers with low precipitation, and most clearly during drought summers. A scale-derivative analysis revealed that fire synchrony and climate varied at similar, roughly decadal scales. Climatic variables and fire synchrony showed varying correlation strength and credibility, depending on the climate variable and the time period. In particular, precipitation emerged as a credible determinant of fire synchrony also at these time scales, despite the large uncertainties in precipitation reconstruction. The findings explain why fire occurrence can be high during cold periods (such as from the mid-17th to early-18th century), and stresses the notion that future fire frequency will likely depend to a greater extent on changes in precipitation than temperature alone. We showed, for the first time, the importance of climate as a decadal-scale driver of forest fires in the European boreal forests, discernible even during a period of strong human influence on fire occurrence. The fire regime responded both to anomalously dry summers, but also to decadal-scale climate changes, demonstrating how climatic variability has shaped the disturbance regimes in the northern European boreal forests over various time scales.
  • Kohli, Juliana (Helsingin yliopisto, 2021)
    Boreal forests are an important storage of carbon (C), representing over one-third of terrestrial C stocks. The continuity of C storage in boreal forests and forest soils is critical to mitigate climate change. Climate change will likely increase the fire season length and the frequency of forest fires in Finland, of which surface fires are the dominant type. Fire affects C dynamics by modifying biotic (SOM, vegetation, microbial activity) and abiotic (soil temperature, moisture, chemistry) components of the forest ecosystem. These fire-induced effects will depend on the intensity of the fire (duration, flame temperature) and the site characteristics, ultimately resulting in either the persistence of, or in a net C loss, which has implications on both a local and global scale. There is a lack of existing research regarding the short-term impacts of surface forest fires and comparisons between different fire intensities. Subsequently, this thesis describes an experimental burn conducted in an even-aged Pinus sylvestris forest in southern Finland and the short- term post-fire impacts on soil biogeochemical processes (June-October 2020). The aims of this study were: (1) to study the effects of low- (200-300 oC) and high- (500-600 oC) intensity surface fires on soil temperature, moisture and soil surface CO2 fluxes straight after fire and through four months after experimental fire; (2) to study the effects of low- and high-intensity surface fires on plant (above and below ground) biomass immediately and four months after fire; (3) to identify the most important factors driving soil CO2 effluxes shortly after the fire. Eight sample plots (225 m2 each) were used, divided between high and low biomass loads to achieve high- and low-intensity fires. Continuous soil temperature and moisture measurements, vegetation inventories, soil sampling (0-30 cm), and soil CO2 efflux measurements were obtained using portable chambers. The results of this study showed that some soil physical and chemical properties were significantly altered due to the experimental surface fire (vegetation, temperature, moisture, root biomass, C, N (nitrogen), C/N), whereas some remained unchanged (pH, humus thickness). Soil moisture was the only variable, which increased as a result of higher fire intensity. Fires at both intensities resulted in the mortality of ground vegetation whilst trees did not experience mortality by the end of the monitoring period. Soil CO2 fluxes decreased in burned areas compared to unburned plots over time, but this change was not significantly different between burning intensities. Future research should investigate the mechanisms of C and N translocation through the soil profile following the addition of water, the relationship between post-fire soil temperature and soil CO2 efflux, how burning different biomass components changes the composition of ash, and how larger differences in burning intensities affect soil properties and soil CO2 effluxes. If trees experience mortality after the time period encompassed by this study, the site could become a potential C source; further monitoring of the study site could account for delayed indirect impacts such as these.