Wildfires in Norway; risk, trends and their relation to drought

Wildfires burn large areas every year, affecting the carbon cycle, terrestrial ecosystems, and human society and economy. Whereas the ignition of fire is relatively arbitrary, and typically caused by lightning or humans (e.g. cigarettes, campfires, sparks from a train), the conditions necessary to make a wildfire out of ignition depends on meteorology, hydrology and the availability of combustible material. These conditions determine the fire risk, which is typically high during dry meteorological and hydrological conditions, the 2018 summer being an extreme example.

The project formulation is flexible and will be shaped in collaboration with the student.

Potential research questions:

  • Has there been changes in the fire risk (e.g. frequency, magnitude, timing) in Norway over the last decades?
  • If we observe changes, what are the main underlying reasons?
  • Which factors/thresholds (e.g. prior and concurrent fire risk, drought indices, meteorological and hydrological conditions), or a combination thereof, can explain when and where wildfires have occurred the recent decades?

Methods include computing trend and/or spatiotemporal patterns in wildfires, the Fire Weather Index (FWI) and various drought indices. Using statistical/machine learning methods to investigate relations between hydrometeorological conditions and wildfire occurrences.

Norwegian hydrometeorological data is available online/from The Norwegian Meteorological Institute (MET) (SeNorge data). We will also need a historical dataset of wildfires (e.g. by Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB) statistics and/or literature study).

The project can be expanded to include other countries as well if we are able to get sufficient data.

Tags: fire, hydrology, drought, statistical analysis
Published Oct. 20, 2020 11:46 AM - Last modified Oct. 20, 2020 11:48 AM

Scope (credits)