Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Multi-Indices Diagnosis of the Conditions That Have Led to the Two 2017 Major Wildfires in Portugal

Version 1 : Received: 27 April 2022 / Approved: 29 April 2022 / Online: 29 April 2022 (08:02:54 CEST)

How to cite: Andrade, C.; Bugalho, L. Multi-Indices Diagnosis of the Conditions That Have Led to the Two 2017 Major Wildfires in Portugal. Preprints 2022, 2022040290 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202204.0290.v1). Andrade, C.; Bugalho, L. Multi-Indices Diagnosis of the Conditions That Have Led to the Two 2017 Major Wildfires in Portugal. Preprints 2022, 2022040290 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202204.0290.v1).

Abstract

Forest fires though part of a natural forest renewal process, when frequent and assuming large-scale proportions have detrimental impacts on biodiversity, agroforestry systems, soil erosion, air and water quality, infrastructures, and economy. Portugal (PT) endures extreme forest fires, with a record of burned area in 2017. These extreme wildfire events (EWE) concentrated in few days but with high burned areas, are among other factors, linked to severe fire weather conditions. In this study a comparison between several fire danger indices is performed for a reference period 2001‒2021 and 2017 (May‒October) for the Fire Weather Index (FWI), Continuous Haines Index (CHI), Keetch-Byram drought index (KBDI), Burning Index (BI) and Fire Danger index (FDI). A daily analysis for the so-called Pedrogão Grande wildfire (June 17th) and the October major fires (October 15th) included the Spread Component (SP) and Ignition Component (IC). Results revealed high above average values for all indices for 2017 in comparison with 2001‒2021 particularly, for October. High statistically significant monthly correlations between FWI, FDI and BI were found, along with lower between FWI and CHI. These correlations are depicted in the spatial patterns between FWI and FDI for the two EWE. The spatial distribution of FDI, SC and IC had the best performance in capturing the locations of the occurrence of the two EWEs’. The outcomes allowed to conclude, that since fire danger depends on several factors a multi-index’s diagnosis is highly relevant, though calibration and scale adjustment are needed for PT. The implementation of a Multi-index’s Prediction System should be able to further enhance the ability of tracking and forecast unique EWE, since the shortcomings of some indices are compensated by the information retrieved by others as shown in this study. Overall, a new forecast system can help ensuring the development of appropriate spatial preparedness plans, proactive responses by the civil protection regarding firefighter’s management, suppression efforts to minimize the detrimental impacts of wildfires in Portugal.

Keywords

Fire Weather Index (FWI); Continuous Haines Index (CHI); Burning Index (BI); Keetch-Byram drought index (KBDI); Fire Danger index (FDI); Spread Component (SP); Wildfires; Portugal

Subject

EARTH SCIENCES, Atmospheric Science

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