Wildfire occurrence and spread are affected by atmospheric and land-cover conditions, and therefore meteorological and land-cover parameters can be used in area burned prediction. We apply three forecast methods, a generalized linear model, regression trees, and neural networks (Levenberg–Marquardt backpropagation) to produce monthly wildfire predictions 1 year in advance. The models are trained using the Global Fire Emissions Database version 4 with small fires (GFEDv4s). Continuous 1-year monthly fire predictions from 2011 to 2015 are evaluated with GFEDs data for 10 major fire regions around the globe. The predictions by the neural network method are superior. The 1-year moving predictions have good prediction skills over these regions, especially over the tropics and the southern hemisphere. The temporal refined index of agreement (IOA) between predictions and GFEDv4s regional burned areas are 0.82, 0.82, 0.8, 0.75, and 0.56 for northern and southern Africa, South America, equatorial Asia and Australia, respectively. The spatial refined IOA for 5-year averaged monthly burned area range from 0.69 in low-fire months to 0.86 in high-fire months over South America, 0.3–0.93 over northern Africa, 0.69–0.93 over southern Africa, 0.47–0.85 over equatorial Asia, and 0.53–0.8 over Australia. For fire regions in the northern temperate and boreal regions, the temporal and spatial IOA between predictions and GFEDv4s data in fire seasons are 0.7–0.79 and 0.24–0.83, respectively. The predictions in high-fire months are better than low-fire months. This study illustrates the feasibility of global fire activity outlook forecasts using a neural network model and the method can be applied to quickly assess the potential effects of climate change on wildfires.
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