Will Global Change Increase Fire Activity In The Mediterranean Basin?

Earth's Chaning Land GCTE-LUCC Open Science Conference - 14-18 March 1998 - Barcelona, Spain

The Issues
Will global change alter the frequency and severity of wildfires in mediterranean ecosystems? Scientists will address this question at a meeting sponsored by GCTE/LUCC in Barcelona, Spain, on March 14-18, 1998.

The Science

  • Scientists will provide evidence that several components of global change, namely increased air temperature, reduced precipitation and land use changes have the potential to worsen wildfires in this region and may already be doing so.

  • Dr. M. De Lus and coworkers (University of Alacant, Spain) will show, based on their their analysis of recent trends in climatic conditions, that precipitations have already declined in the Mediterranean, particularly during the summer, and are becoming increasingly erratic. They will conclude that in the region of Valencia, E. Spain, conditions have become more favourable for wildfires because water stress increases plant flammability. Dr. J. Piol and coworkers (CREAF, Spain) will show that the number of wildfires increased in NE Spain over the last 30 years, the summer of 1994 being the worst fire season ever recorded. They will discuss the correlation between this increase and the recorded increase in air temperature of 0.10C per decade over that same period.

  • Dr. B. Duguy Pedra, from CEAM, Paterna Spain, will argue, based on his study of landscape pattern using a GIS, that land use changes, in particular crop abandonment -resulting in a greater landscape homogeneity- and the introduction of flammable species such as the pine, have contributed to increased fire susceptibility in the last 20 years. Dr. J. Moreno, presently at the Universidad de Castilla-La Mancha, Spain will analyze the increase in fire activity in Spain in the last decades and its possible correlation with land use changes.

Contact: Anne Larigauderie
+34 3 233 2387
Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems Project (GCTE)

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