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Forests 2018, 9(4), 159; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9040159

Temporal Patterns of Wildfire Activity in Areas of Contrasting Human Influence in the Canadian Boreal Forest

1
Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2R3, Canada
2
Canadian Partnership for Wildland Fire Science, Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2R3, Canada
3
Northern Forestry Centre, Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada, Edmonton, AB T6H 3S5, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 February 2018 / Revised: 15 March 2018 / Accepted: 19 March 2018 / Published: 21 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wildland Fire, Forest Dynamics, and Their Interactions)
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Abstract

The influence of humans on the boreal forest has altered the temporal and spatial patterns of wildfire activity through modification of the physical environment and through fire management for the protection of human and economic values. Wildfires are actively suppressed in areas with higher human influence, but, paradoxically, these areas have more numerous ignitions than low-impact ones because of the high rates of human-ignited fires, especially during the springtime. The aim of this study is to evaluate how humans have altered the temporal patterns of wildfire activity in the Canadian boreal forest by comparing two adjacent areas of low and high human influence, respectively: Wood Buffalo National Park (WBNP) and the Lower Athabasca Plains (LAP). We carried out Singular Spectrum Analysis to identify trends and cycles in wildfires from 1970 to 2015 for the two areas and examined their association with climate conditions. We found human influence to be reflected in wildfire activity in multiple ways: (1) by dampening (i.e., for area burned)—and even reversing (i.e., for the number of fires)—the increasing trends of fire activity usually associated with drier and warmer conditions; (2) by shifting the peak of fire activity from the summer to the spring; (3) by altering the fire-climate association; and (4) by exhibiting more recurrent (<8 year periodicities) cyclical patterns of fire activity than WBNP (>9 years). View Full-Text
Keywords: Wildfire; Wildland fire; forest fire; boreal forest; fire management; human influence; climate Wildfire; Wildland fire; forest fire; boreal forest; fire management; human influence; climate
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Campos-Ruiz, R.; Parisien, M.-A.; Flannigan, M.D. Temporal Patterns of Wildfire Activity in Areas of Contrasting Human Influence in the Canadian Boreal Forest. Forests 2018, 9, 159.

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