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Chilean wildfires: probabilistic prediction, emergency response and public communication

Dacre, H. F. ORCID:, Crawford, B. R., Charlton-Perez, A. J. ORCID:, Lopez-Saldana, G., Griffiths, G. H. and Vicencio Veloso, J. (2018) Chilean wildfires: probabilistic prediction, emergency response and public communication. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. pp. 2259-2274. ISSN 1520-0477

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-D-17-0111.1


The 2016/17 wildfire season in Chile was the worst on record, burning more than 600,000 hectares. Whilst wildfires are an important natural process in some areas of Chile supporting its diverse ecosystems, wildfires are also one of the biggest threats to Chile’s unique biodiversity and it’s timber and wine industries. They also pose a danger to human life and property due to the sharp wildland-urban interface that exists in many Chilean towns and cities. Wildfires are however difficult to predict due to the combination of physical (meteorology, vegetation and fuel condition), and human (population density and awareness level) factors. Most Chilean wildfires are started due to accidental ignition by humans. This accidental ignition could be minimized if an effective wildfire warning system alerted the population to the heightened danger of wildfires in certain locations and meteorological conditions. Here we demonstrate the design of a novel probabilistic wildfire prediction system. The system uses ensemble forecast meteorological data together with a longtime series of fire products derived from Earth Observation to predict not only fire occurrence, but in addition, how intense wildfires could be. The system provides wildfire risk estimation and associated uncertainty for up to 6 days in advance, and communicates it to a variety of end users. The advantage of this probabilistic wildfire warning system over deterministic systems is that it allows users to assess the confidence of a forecast and thus make more informed decisions regarding resource allocation and forest management. The approach used in this study could easily be adapted to communicate other probabilistic forecasts of natural hazards.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:77659
Publisher:American Meteorological Society


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