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Anthropogenic influence on recent severe autumn fire weather in the west coast of the United States
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  • Linnia R Hawkins,
  • John T Abatzoglou,
  • Sihan Li,
  • David E. Rupp
Linnia R Hawkins
Forest Ecosystems & Society, Oregon State University

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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John T Abatzoglou
University of California Merced
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Sihan Li
University of Oxford
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David E. Rupp
Oregon State University
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Extreme wind-driven autumn wildfires are hazardous to life and property, due to their rapid rate of spread. Recent catastrophic autumn wildfires in the western United States co-occurred with record- or near-record autumn fire weather indices that are a byproduct of extreme fuel dryness and strong offshore dry winds. Here, we use a formal, probabilistic, extreme event attribution analysis to investigate anthropogenic influence on recent extreme autumn fire weather events. We show that while present-day anthropogenic climate change has slightly decreased the prevalence of strong offshore downslope winds, it has increased the likelihood of extreme fire weather indices by 40%, primarily through increased autumn fuel aridity and warmer temperatures during dry wind events. These findings illustrate that anthropogenic climate change is exacerbating autumn fire weather extremes that contribute to high-impact catastrophic fires in populated regions of the western US.
28 Feb 2022Published in Geophysical Research Letters volume 49 issue 4. 10.1029/2021GL095496