Fanning the flames
As rural fire managers brace themselves for the upcoming fire season, spare a thought for fire fighters of the future. Scion rural fire scientist Grant Pearce was commissioned by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry to explore how climate change is likely to affect fire risk in New Zealand.
“Results indicate that fire climate severity is likely to rise significantly in certain regions,” Grant explains. “A doubling or even trebling of fire danger is possible in some areas as a result of temperature increases, higher wind speeds and lower humidity.”
The greatest relative (%) changes are likely in areas where current fire dangers are comparatively low, such as coastal Southland and Wanganui. Significant increases in fire danger are also predicted in the country’s current hot spots, namely Gisborne and Christchurch. A summary of the report can be found on Scion’s website: www.scionresearch.com/fire.