A 700-year record of large fire years in northern Scandinavia shows large variability and increased frequency during the 1800 s.
Igor Drobyshev, Yves Bergeron, Hans W. Linderholm, Anders Granström, Mats Niklasson.
Years with climatically mediated increases in boreal forest fire activity, referred to as large fire years (LFYs), contribute to a disproportionally large portion of the burned area over centuries, and are important drivers of ecosystem processes by affecting forest structure, biodiversity, and carbon balance at regional and continental scales. We analysed changes in LFY return intervals in northern Sweden (the area above 60?°N) over 1273–1960 using a network of 29 sites with dendrochronologically reconstructed fires, complemented by documentary records of fires available from forestry statistics. We observed large variability in return intervals of LFYs, an increase in LFY frequency during the 1800?s, and consistent associations between LFY occurrence and 500-hPa pressure anomalies over the European sub-continent over 1800xps2#1960. An increase in LFY frequency during the 1800?s might be climatically driven, and would thus long precede the period of likely human-induced climatic changes of the 1900?s. Long-term variability in climatically driven LFYs may present a challenge in partitioning the effects of human-related and human-independent components of climatic forcing upon forest fire activity.