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Title: Increasing large wildfires over the western United States linked to diminishing sea ice in the Arctic

Abstract

Abstract The compound nature of large wildfires in combination with complex physical and biophysical processes affecting variations in hydroclimate and fuel conditions makes it difficult to directly connect wildfire changes over fire-prone regions like the western United States (U.S.) with anthropogenic climate change. Here we show that increasing large wildfires during autumn over the western U.S. are fueled by more fire-favorable weather associated with declines in Arctic sea ice during preceding months on both interannual and interdecadal time scales. Our analysis (based on observations, climate model sensitivity experiments, and a multi-model ensemble of climate simulations) demonstrates and explains the Arctic-driven teleconnection through regional circulation changes with the poleward-shifted polar jet stream and enhanced fire-favorable surface weather conditions. The fire weather changes driven by declining Arctic sea ice during the past four decades are of similar magnitude to other leading modes of climate variability such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation that also influence fire weather in the western U.S.

Authors:
ORCiD logo; ORCiD logo; ORCiD logo; ;
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
OSTI Identifier:
1827453
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1830738
Report Number(s):
PNNL-SA-156778
Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723; 6048; PII: 26232
Grant/Contract Number:  
the HiLAT-RASM project; AC05-76RL01830; AC02-05CH11231
Resource Type:
Published Article
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Nature Communications Journal Volume: 12 Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Country of Publication:
United Kingdom
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; atmospheric dynamics; climate change; cryospheric science; natural hazards

Citation Formats

Zou, Yufei, Rasch, Philip J., Wang, Hailong, Xie, Zuowei, and Zhang, Rudong. Increasing large wildfires over the western United States linked to diminishing sea ice in the Arctic. United Kingdom: N. p., 2021. Web. doi:10.1038/s41467-021-26232-9.
Zou, Yufei, Rasch, Philip J., Wang, Hailong, Xie, Zuowei, & Zhang, Rudong. Increasing large wildfires over the western United States linked to diminishing sea ice in the Arctic. United Kingdom. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-26232-9
Zou, Yufei, Rasch, Philip J., Wang, Hailong, Xie, Zuowei, and Zhang, Rudong. Tue . "Increasing large wildfires over the western United States linked to diminishing sea ice in the Arctic". United Kingdom. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-26232-9.
@article{osti_1827453,
title = {Increasing large wildfires over the western United States linked to diminishing sea ice in the Arctic},
author = {Zou, Yufei and Rasch, Philip J. and Wang, Hailong and Xie, Zuowei and Zhang, Rudong},
abstractNote = {Abstract The compound nature of large wildfires in combination with complex physical and biophysical processes affecting variations in hydroclimate and fuel conditions makes it difficult to directly connect wildfire changes over fire-prone regions like the western United States (U.S.) with anthropogenic climate change. Here we show that increasing large wildfires during autumn over the western U.S. are fueled by more fire-favorable weather associated with declines in Arctic sea ice during preceding months on both interannual and interdecadal time scales. Our analysis (based on observations, climate model sensitivity experiments, and a multi-model ensemble of climate simulations) demonstrates and explains the Arctic-driven teleconnection through regional circulation changes with the poleward-shifted polar jet stream and enhanced fire-favorable surface weather conditions. The fire weather changes driven by declining Arctic sea ice during the past four decades are of similar magnitude to other leading modes of climate variability such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation that also influence fire weather in the western U.S.},
doi = {10.1038/s41467-021-26232-9},
journal = {Nature Communications},
number = 1,
volume = 12,
place = {United Kingdom},
year = {2021},
month = {10}
}

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