The observed trend towards warmer and drier conditions in southern Europe is projected to continue in the next decades, possibly leading to increased risk of large fires. However, an assessment of climate change impacts on fires at and above the 1.5 °C Paris target is still missing. Here, we estimate future summer burned area in Mediterranean Europe under 1.5, 2, and 3°C global warming scenarios, accounting for possible modifications of climate-fire relationships under changed climatic conditions owing to productivity alterations. We found that such modifications could be beneficial, roughly halving the fire-intensifying signals. In any case, the burned area is robustly projected to increase. The higher the warming level is, the larger is the increase of burned area, ranging from ~40% to ~100% across the scenarios. Our results indicate that significant benefits would be obtained if warming were limited to well below 2 °C.
One of the authors of this article, Dr. María del Carmen Llasat Botija, is a member of MedECC Steering Committee and a Coordinating Lead Author of the First MedECC Assessment Report (MAR1), “Introduction” chapter.
Turco M, Rosa-Cánovas JJ, Bedia J, Jerez S, Montávez JP, Llasat MC, Provenzale A (2018) Exacerbated fires in Mediterranean Europe due to anthropogenic warming projected with non-stationary climate-fire models. Nature Communications, 9, 3821, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-06358-z