The area of wildfires in Borneo during drought years turns out to be ten times larger than during non-drought years, an international research team reports in Nature Climate Change of this week. The fires recurrently affecting Borneo’s humid tropical ecosystems have negative influence on the biodiversity and lead to large CO2 emissions, affecting atmospheric composition and regional climate processes. Future droughts in wet tropical regions will likely increase in frequency and severity, and consequently the fire risk, the team says.
The team also explored the link between hydrological drought and wildfire using the monthly fire area burnt from the spatially distributed Global Fire Emission Dataset from the period 1996-2015. They classified years in this period into drought and non-drought years. The analysis illustrates that wildfires occur annually, that is, also in non-drought years, but that amplification of wildfires occurs during drought years. In drought years, the maximum area burnt is almost a factor of ten larger than in non-drought years. Frequency of very large fire extents (>10,000 ha) is significantly higher in drought years.
Read the Science and Technology Research News story - “Hydrological Drought Amplifies Wildfires in Borneo’s Humid Tropics.”