Report looks to plants for improving global fire forecasting

A new conceptual framework could provide vital steps forwards in the bid to improve fire forecasting globally.

A paper on plants and fire modelling, published in New Phytologist, revealed that the water and carbon dynamics of plants provide the mechanism that links fire behaviour to plant injury, mortality and recovery.

The international research team who worked on the paper have highlighted the importance of taking into account plant physiology and water use in wildfire forecasting, as well as in prescribed fire planning, as moisture levels of fuel can significantly alter how fire burns.

Turin Dickman, a plant ecophysiologist and one of the authors of the paper said: “Current fire models fail to capture vegetation response to changing climate, but next-generation models can simulate increasingly complex physical processes. So our approach will be essential to enable models to simulate the influence of those responses on live-fuel conditions.”

High temperatures and drought conditions can compound water stress in plants, which then impacts on vegetation dynamics in fire behaviour.

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