Salis, Michele and Ager, Alan A. and Finney, Mark A. and Arca, Bachisio and Spano, Donatella Emma Ignazia (2014) Analyzing spatiotemporal changes in wildfire regime and exposure across a Mediterranean fire-prone area. Natural Hazards, Vol. 71 (3), p. 1389-1418. ISSN 0921-030X. eISSN 1573-0840. Article.
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We evaluated the spatiotemporal changes in wildfire regime and exposure in a fire-prone Mediterranean area (Sardinia, Italy) in relation to changes in ignition patterns, weather, suppression activities, and land uses. We also used wildfire simulations to identify fine-scale changes in wildfire exposure of important features on the island. Sardinia experienced a sharp reduction in fire number and area burned between the periods 1980–1994 and 1995–2009. Despite this decrease, losses and fatalities from wildfires continue. This suggests that localized areas and seasons of high wildfire risk persist on the island. Our analysis showed (1) a reduction in area burned (60,000–20,000 ha/year) and ignitions (3,700–2,600 fires/year), (2) an advance of 15 days for the fire season peak, (3) an increase in spring temperatures, and (4) an increase in fire exposure for WUI areas. Little change was noted for land use types and associated fuels. Most likely the reduction in fire activity may be due to a combination of social factors and suppression capabilities. On the other hand, simulation modeling suggested pockets of high wildfire exposure in specific places. The combined empirical analyses and simulation modeling provided a robust approach to understanding the spatiotemporal dynamics of wildfire risk on the island.
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