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Journal Articles Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences Year : 2019

Contrasting large fire activity in the French Mediterranean


Abstract. In the French Mediterranean, large fires have significant socioeconomic and environmental impacts. We used a long-term georeferenced fire time series (1958–2017) to analyze both spatial and temporal distributions of large fires (LFs; ≥100 ha). The region was impacted in some locations up to six times by recurrent LFs and 21 % of the total area burned by LFs occurred on a surface that previously burned in the past, with potential impact on forest resilience. We found contrasting patterns between the east and the west of the study area, the former experiencing fewer LFs but of a larger extent compared to the latter, with an average time of occurrence between LFs exceeding 4000 ha < 7 years mostly in the eastern coastal area and > 50 years in the west. This longitudinal gradient in LF return level contrasts with what we would expect from mean fire weather conditions strongly decreasing eastwards during the fire season but is consistent with larger fuel cover in the east, highlighting the strong role of fuel continuity in fire spread. Additionally, our analysis confirms the sharp decrease in both LF frequency and burned area in the early 1990s, due to the efficiency of fire suppression and prevention reinforced at that time, thereby weakening the functional climate–fire relationship across the region.
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hal-04213284 , version 1 (21-09-2023)




Renaud Barbero, Anne Ganteaume. Contrasting large fire activity in the French Mediterranean. Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 2019, 19 (5), pp.1055-1066. ⟨10.5194/nhess-19-1055-2019⟩. ⟨hal-04213284⟩
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