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Hollings Scholar Presentations: Exploration of the Hot Dry Windy Index and wildfire; Climate Change and overnight fire growth

July 24, 2020 @ 10:00 am to 11:00 am AKDT

Speakers: Clairisse Reiher & Emily McCutchan, 2020 Hollings Scholars

During the summer of 2020 ACCAP and the Alaska Fire Science Consortium hosted two Ernest F. Hollings scholars for the summer internships. Because of COVID-19 their internships were remote. During this webinar the scholars will present their summer’s work.

1. An exploration of the Hot Dry Windy Index & its applicability to the Alaska wildfire environment (Emily)
Hot, dry, and windy conditions have a well-established link to wildfire growth. The Hot-Dry-Windy Index (HDW) combines daily values of wind speed and vapor pressure deficit to provide insight into large fire growth days. This study explores trends in HDW from 1980-2019 for Alaska based on ERA5 Reanalysis data, compares daily values of HDW to MODIS fire detections for individual PSA’s, and examines case studies to provide insight into HDW’s utility for fire forecasting in Alaska.

2. Changing Summer Nighttime Climate and its Impact on Alaska Fire Growth (Clairisse)
Growth of wildfires in Alaska is generally expected to occur with the assistance of heat and low moisture during daylight hours, while overnight low temperatures and relative humidity recoveries limit this growth. However, the progression of climatological warming in the Arctic, combined with prolonged exposure to sunlight at high latitudes during the summer, may be providing more capability for overnight fire growth than previously thought. This project makes use of historical wildfire records and ERA5-Land reanalysis data to investigate the potential of taking nighttime temperatures and relative humidity recoveries into consideration for fire weather forecasts.