How much does weather control fire size and intensity in the Mediterranean region?
- Institut Pierre Simon Laplace/Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, CNRS/Ecole Polytechnique/Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Palaiseau, France
Abstract. This study investigates the synoptic conditions favorable to wildfires in the Mediterranean region, in terms of fire intensity and burnt area. As reported in the literature, Mediterranean large wildfires are associated with a blocking situation. However, this study shows the existence of two types of wildfires controlled by the blocking high intensity: (1) fast build-up of a weak blocking produces intense wildfires associated with strong winds which allow propagation over long distances; (2) longer build-up of strong blocking situation produces less intense wildfires associated with weaker winds which also propagate over long distances. Another major step forward of this study in the understanding of the drivers of those wildfires is the evidence of a perfect match between the period of wildfire activity and the persistence of the favorable synoptic conditions: the wildfire activity starts at the onset of the blocking situation and ends with the transition to a less favorable synoptic weather pattern. Such strong control of the wildfire activity by the concomitant weather is a very promising result regarding fire risk management, especially considering the accidental nature of the Mediterranean wildfires.