Wildfire: Misconceptions About Trends and Impacts Revealed in New Research

A new analysis of global data related to wildfire, published by the Royal Society, reveals major misconceptions about wildfire and its social and economic impacts.

Prof. Stefan Doerr and Dr Cristina Santin from Swansea University’s College of Science carried out a detailed analysis of global and regional data on fire occurrence, severity and its impacts on society.

Their research, published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, examined a wide range of published data arising from satellite imagery, charcoal records in sediments and isotope-ratio records in ice cores, to build up a picture of wildfire in the recent and more distant past.

In contrast to what is widely portrayed in the literature and media reports, they found that:

  • global area burned has seen an overall slight decline over past decades, despite some notable regional increases. Currently, around 4% of the global land surface is affected by vegetation fires each year;
  • there is increasing evidence that there is less fire in the global landscape today than centuries ago;
  • direct fatalities from fire and economic losses also show no clear trends over the past three decades

The researchers concluded:
“The data available to date do not support a general increase in area burned or in fire severity for many regions of the world. Indeed there is increasing evidence that there is overall less fire in the landscape today than there has been centuries ago, although the magnitude of this reduction still needs to be examined in more detail.”

read more/source: http://www.swansea.ac.uk/media-centre/latest-research/wildfiremisconceptionsabouttrendsandimpactsrevealedinnewresearch.php

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