Extreme fire weather in Chile driven by climate change and El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)

Cordero, Raul R.; Feron, Sarah; Damiani, Alessandro; Carrasco, Jorge; Karas, Cyrus; Wang, Chenghao; Kraamwinkel, Clarisse T.; Beaulieu, Anne


A string of fierce fires broke out in Chile in the austral summer 2023, just six years after the record-breaking 2017 fire season. Favored by extreme weather conditions, fire activity has dramatically risen in recent years in this Andean country. A total of 1.7 million ha. burned during the last decade, tripling figures of the prior decade. Six of the seven most destructive fire seasons on record occurred since 2014. Here, we analyze the progression during the last two decades of the weather conditions associated with increased fire risk in Central Chile (30 degrees-39 degrees S). Fire weather conditions (including high temperatures, low humidity, dryness, and strong winds) increase the potential for wildfires, once ignited, to rapidly spread. We show that the concurrence of El Nino and climate-fueled droughts and heatwaves boost the local fire risk and have decisively contributed to the intense fire activity recently seen in Central Chile. Our results also suggest that the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean variability modulates the seasonal fire weather in the country, driving in turn the interannual fire activity. The signature of the warm anomalies in the Nino 1 + 2 region (0 degrees-10 degrees S, 90 degrees W-80 degrees W) is apparent on the burned area records seen in Central Chile in 2017 and 2023.

Más información

Título según WOS: ID WOS:001155174100018 Not found in local WOS DB
Título de la Revista: SCIENTIFIC REPORTS
Volumen: 14
Número: 1
Fecha de publicación: 2024


Notas: ISI