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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2019-248
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-2019-248
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: data description paper 24 Feb 2020

Submitted as: data description paper | 24 Feb 2020

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This preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

A high-resolution reanalysis of global fire weather from 1979 to 2018 – Overwintering the Drought Code

Megan McElhinny1,2, Justin F. Beckers2, Chelene Hanes3, Mike Flannigan4, and Piyush Jain2 Megan McElhinny et al.
  • 1Environmental Sciences, University of British Columbia
  • 2Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Northern Forestry Centre, 5320 – 122nd Street, Edmonton, AB T5H 3S5, Canada
  • 3Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service, Great Lakes Forestry Centre, 1219 Queen St. E, Sault Ste. Marie, ON P6A 2E5, Canada
  • 4Department of Renewable Resources, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB T6G 2H1, Canada

Abstract. We present a global high-resolution calculation of the Canadian Fire Weather Index (FWI) System Indices using surface meteorology from the ERA5-HRS reanalysis for 1979–2018. ERA5-HRS represents an improved dataset compared to several other reanalyses in terms of accuracy, as well as spatial and temporal coverage. The FWI calculation is performed using two different procedures for setting the start-up value of the Drought Code (DC) at the beginning of the fire season. The first procedure, which accounts for the effects of inter-seasonal drought, overwinters the DC by adjusting the fall DC value with a fraction of accumulated overwinter precipitation. The second procedure sets the DC to its default start-up value (i.e. 15) at the start of each fire season. We validate the FWI values over Canada using station observations from Environment and Climate Change Canada and find generally good agreement (mean Spearman correlation of 0.77). We also show that significant differences in early season DC and FWI values can occur when the FWI System calculation is started using the overwintered versus default DC values, as is highlighted by an example from 2016 over North America. The FWI System moisture codes and fire behavior indices are made available for both versions of the calculation at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3626193 (McElhinny et al., 2020), although we recommend using codes and indices calculated with the overwintered DC, unless specific research requirements dictate otherwise.

Megan McElhinny et al.

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Megan McElhinny et al.

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Global Fire Weather Indices - with default and overwintered DC startup M. McElhinny, J. F. Beckers, C. Hanes, M. Flannigan, and P. Jain https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3626193

Megan McElhinny et al.

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Short summary
The Canadian Fire Weather Index uses temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and rainfall to provide a fire danger rating that is crucial for fire managers and communities for risk assessment. We provide a global calculation of this index and other relevant indices using high-resolution modelled weather data for 1979–2018. This data will be useful for research studies aiming to quantify the relationships between fire occurrence, growth or severity with weather or for trend analysis studies.
The Canadian Fire Weather Index uses temperature, relative humidity, wind speed and rainfall to...
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