EGU23-16986, updated on 26 Feb 2023
EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The impact of climate change on fire danger over the contiguous United States

Maria Klariza Madrazo1, Huikyo Lee2, Arezoo Khodayari3, Weile Wang4, Taejin Park5, and Colin Raymond6
Maria Klariza Madrazo et al.
  • 1California State University Los Angeles/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (
  • 2Jet Propulsion Laboratory (
  • 3California State University Los Angeles (
  • 4NASA Ames Research Center (
  • 5NASA Ames Research Center (
  • 6Jet Propulsion Laboratory (

Recent extreme heat events, especially those that have occurred in the Western United States (WUS), are fueling wildfires and funneling smoke at an unprecedented level, impacting air/water quality and leading to an increase in respiratory hospitalizations. Under greenhouse warming, extreme weather conditions that favor wildfire ignition are expected to occur more frequently over the contiguous United States (CONUS). Therefore, predicting wildfire danger under a changing climate is essential in managing future wildfires and protecting the welfare of people and the environment. In response to mitigating wildfire risks, the Canadian Fire Weather Index (FWI) was developed to provide a numeric rating representing the intensity of a spreading fire. In this work, we utilized fine-scale (0.25° x 0.25°) daily meteorological inputs from thirty-five general circulation models in NASA Earth Exchange Global Daily Downscaled Projections Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (NEX-GDDP-CMIP6) data to calculate the FWI. Using the daily maximum temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and precipitation from NEX-GDDP-CMIP6, we calculated the FWI of historical and future simulations from the periods of 1950 to 2100 under different emission scenarios (Shared Socioeconomic Pathways 2-4.5 and 5-8.5). We have analyzed the FWI for the GISS-E2-1-G model, which indicates a 2-3% increase per decade in future fire danger under both emission-pathway-driven climate scenarios during the dry season in the Southwestern US. We have found that the FWI climatology in the Southwestern US during the Summer presents high to extreme fire danger (> 50) and higher FWI values in the future compared to historical observations. Moreover, we have explored the uncertainties across multiple models using NEX-GDDP-CMIP6 statistically downscaled data and found a significant spread of the FWI across the models for historical observations and future simulations. To correlate the link between the FWI and actual fire occurrence, we will calculate the FWI using reanalysis data (MERRA-2) and validate the FWI with actual fire occurrence data from Global Fire Emissions Database (GFED) with a special emphasis on the WUS. While supporting the US NCA and NASA’s Climate Adaptation Service Investigator (CASI), we will also try to contribute FWI to NASA’s FireSense, an initiative to bring an Earth systems approach to improving wildfire and wildland fire management.

How to cite: Madrazo, M. K., Lee, H., Khodayari, A., Wang, W., Park, T., and Raymond, C.: The impact of climate change on fire danger over the contiguous United States, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-16986,, 2023.