Fire occurrence and behaviour in Mediterranean-type ecosystems strongly depend on the air temperature and wind conditions, the amount of fuel load and the drought conditions that drastically increase flammability, particularly during the summer period. In order to study the fire danger due to climate change for these ecosystems, the meteorologically based Fire Weather Index (FWI) can be used. The Fire Weather Index (FWI) system, which is part of the Canadian Forest Fire Danger Rating System (CFFDRS), has been validated and recognized worldwide as one of the most trusted and important indicators for meteorological fire danger mapping. A number of FWI system components (Fire Weather Index, Drought Code, Initial Spread Index and Fire Severity Rating) were estimated and analysed in the current study for the Mediterranean area of France. Daily raster-based data-sets for the fire seasons (1st
October) of a historic and a future time period were created for the study area based on representative concentration pathway (RCP) 4.5 and RCP 8.5 scenarios, outputs of CNRM-SMHI and MPI-SMHI climate models. GIS spatial analyses were applied on the series of the derived daily raster maps in order to provide a number of output maps for the study area. The results portray various levels of changes in fire danger, in the near future, according to the examined indices. Number of days with high and very high FWI values were found to be doubled compared to the historical period, in particular in areas of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) region and Corsica. The areas with high Initial Spread Index and Seasonal Spread Index values increased as well, forming compact zones of high fire danger in the southern part of the study area, while the Drought Code index did not show remarkable changes. The current study on the evolution of spatial and temporal distribution of forest fire danger due to climate change can provide important knowledge to the decision support process for prevention and management policies of forest fires both at a national and EU level.
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