Articles | Volume 12, issue 8
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 2591–2601, 2012
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 2591–2601, 2012

Research article 16 Aug 2012

Research article | 16 Aug 2012

Long-term temporal changes in the occurrence of a high forest fire danger in Finland

H. M. Mäkelä, M. Laapas, and A. Venäläinen H. M. Mäkelä et al.
  • Finnish Meteorological Institute, Climate Change Research Unit, P.O. Box 503, 00101 Helsinki, Finland

Abstract. Climate variation and change influence several ecosystem components including forest fires. To examine long-term temporal variations of forest fire danger, a fire danger day (FDD) model was developed. Using mean temperature and total precipitation of the Finnish wildfire season (June–August), the model describes the climatological preconditions of fire occurrence and gives the number of fire danger days during the same time period. The performance of the model varied between different regions in Finland being best in south and west. In the study period 1908–2011, the year-to-year variation of FDD was large and no significant increasing or decreasing tendencies could be found. Negative slopes of linear regression lines for FDD could be explained by the simultaneous, mostly not significant increases in precipitation. Years with the largest wildfires did not stand out from the FDD time series. This indicates that intra-seasonal variations of FDD enable occurrence of large-scale fires, despite the whole season's fire danger is on an average level. Based on available monthly climate data, it is possible to estimate the general fire conditions of a summer. However, more detailed input data about weather conditions, land use, prevailing forestry conventions and socio-economical factors would be needed to gain more specific information about a season's fire risk.