Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

Atmospheric Susceptibility to Wildfire - the Last Glacial Maximum and Mid-Holocene

The impact of anomalous climate forcing on the environmental vulnerability to the occurrence of wildfire, based on climate model simulations, is analysed. The Haines Index (HI) that indicates wildfire potential growth by measuring the stability and dryness of the air, was used by the authors1 in this investigation. In their study the authors1 analysed 3 simulations - for the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), the mid-Holocene and the present (MOD0 conditions. The HI indicates that for the conditions of the present the HI is a useful tool for identifying areas where the susceptibility to the occurrence of fire is high, such as the US west coast and central South America. It was found by analyses of the glacial epoch that in respect to the MOD conditions the HI is intensified in Africa and South Asia. In Australia it is reduced, as it is for the North American west coast, Europe and northern Asia. The atmospheric conditions during the mid-Holocene suggest fire was more likely to occur over North America, sub-Saharan Africa, and large areas of Eurasia and South America. In the contrary, regions that appear to have been less susceptible to intense fires, when compared to conditions of the present, include Australia, northern Africa and northern South America. These analyses match very closely  palaeofire inferences obtained from the analyses of charcoal of the appropriate age.


Sources & Further reading

Justino, F., W. R. Peltier, and H. A. Barbosa. "Atmospheric Susceptibility to Wildfire Occurrence During the Last Glacial Maximum and Mid-Holocene." Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 295, no. 12 (9/1/ 2010): 76-88.

Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated 02/05/2013
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