Increased wildfire hazard along South-Central Chile under the RCP8.5 scenario as revealed by high-resolution modeling

Isabella Ciocca, Alfonso Fernández, Edilia Jaque, Flavio Justino, Vanúcia Shumacher, Alex Santos da Silva, Ariel Muñoz, Francisco de la Barrera

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Resumen

Among Mediterranean regions, the South-Central Zone of Chile (SCZCh) portrays a landscape where wildfires constantly and historically occur, many times damaging ecosystems, lives and livelihoods. Since 2010, this zone has entered a period of unprecedented drought that has contributed to wildfire rising trends. Wildfire occurrence and intensity in this zone can be associated with three main factors: climate and land cover as conditioning factors, and human activity as a triggering factor. This paper evaluates wildfire hazard for the SCZCh, based on environmental susceptibility to wildfire occurrence, using numerical regional climate and wildfire modeling for the 2002-2005 historical period and for the mid and late 21st-century under the RCP8.5 climate change scenario. Results indicate high skill in matching spatial patterns of fire spot occurrence and density in the historical period, as well as the ability to simulate seasonal behavior in wildfire environmental susceptibility, consistent with national historical statistics. The fire hazard in SCZCh will slightly increase in all seasons for both 2041-2050 and 2091-2100 periods, especially southward, with a long-term spatial homogenization of medium levels of hazard in Central Valley and Coastal Range, between 0 and 1000 m a.s.l. These results combined with the current homogeneous extensive exotic species plantations dominated by inflammable tree species in SCZCh might facilitate the occurrence of large wildfires under the projected 21st-century climate regime.

Idioma originalInglés
Número de artículo034023
PublicaciónEnvironmental Research Letters
Volumen18
N.º3
DOI
EstadoPublicada - 1 mar. 2023

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