09 Mar 2022
09 Mar 2022
Status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Characterizing the Rate of Spread of Wildfires in Emerging Fire Environments of Northwestern Europe

Victor Mario Tapia1,2, Santiago Monedero1, Kerryn Little3, Sergio de-Miguel2,4, Cathelijne Stoof5, and Adrián Cardíl1,2,4 Victor Mario Tapia et al.
  • 1Tecnosylva, S.L Parque Tecnológico de León, 24004 León, Spain
  • 2Department of Crop and Forest Sciences, University of Lleida, 25198 Lleida, Spain
  • 3School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  • 4Joint Research Unit CTFC - AGROTECNIO - CERCA, 25280 Solsona, Spain
  • 5Department of Environmental Sciences, Wageningen University, PO box 47, 6700 AA Wageningen, The Netherlands

Abstract. In recent years fires of greater magnitude have been documented throughout northwest Europe, and with several climate projections indicating future increases in fire activity in this temperate area, it is imperative to identify the status of fire in this region. This study unravels important unknowns about the state of the fire regime in northwest Europe by characterizing one of the key aspects of fire behavior, the rate of spread (ROS). Using an innovative approach to cluster VIIRS hotspots into fire perimeter isochrones to derive ROS, we identify the effects of land cover and season on fire rate of spread of 254 landscape fires that occurred between 2012 and 2020. Results reveal no significant differences between land cover types and there is a clear peak of ROS and burned area in the months of April and May. During this late spring period, 67 % of the burned area occurs and median fire runs are approximately 0.16 km/hr during a 12 hour overpass. Heightened ROS and burned area values persist in the bordering months of March and June suggesting that may present the extent of the fire season in northwestern Europe. Accurate data on ROS among the represented land cover types as well as periods of peak activity are essential for determining periods of elevated fire risk, the effectiveness of available suppression techniques as well as appropriate mitigation strategies (land and fuel management).

Victor Mario Tapia et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2022-47', Anonymous Referee #1, 31 Mar 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Adrián Cardíl, 24 Aug 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on nhess-2022-47', Anonymous Referee #2, 25 Apr 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Adrián Cardíl, 24 Aug 2022

Victor Mario Tapia et al.

Victor Mario Tapia et al.


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Short summary
This study aims to better understand fire behavior in northwest Europe, a temperate region with a projected increase in wildfire risk. We propose a new method to identify wildfire rate of spread from satellites. Results indicate that there is a peak in the area burned and rate of spread in the months of April and May. Knowledge of wildfire rate of spread is important for evaluating periods of elevated fire risk, available suppression methods, as well as land management strategies.