North Tropical Atlantic influence on western Amazon fire season variability

Katia Fernandes; Walter E. Baethgen; Sergio Bernardes; Ruth S. DeFries; David G. DeWitt; Lisa M. Goddard; Waldo Lavado; Dong Eun Lee; Christine Padoch; Miguel Angel Pinedo-Vasquez; Maria Uriarte

North Tropical Atlantic influence on western Amazon fire season variability
Fernandes, Katia
Baethgen, Walter E.
Bernardes, Sergio
DeFries, Ruth S.
DeWitt, David G.
Goddard, Lisa M.
Lavado, Waldo
Lee, Dong Eun
Padoch, Christine
Pinedo-Vasquez, Miguel Angel
Uriarte, Maria
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
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Book/Journal Title:
Geophysical Research Letters
Geographic Area:
Amazon River Region
American Geophysical Union
The prevailing wet climate in the western Amazon is not favorable to the natural occurrence of fires. Nevertheless, the current process of clearing of humid forests for agriculture and cattle ranching has increased the vulnerability of the region to the spread of fires. Using meteorological stations precipitation and the Moderate Resolution Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Active-Fires (AF) during 2000-2009, we show that fire anomalies vary closely with July-August-September (JAS) precipitation variability as measured by the Standardized Precipitation Index (SPI). The precipitation variability is, in turn, greatly determined by sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies in the North Tropical Atlantic (NTA). We develop a linear regression model to relate local fire activity to an index of the NTA-SST. By using seasonal forecasts of SST from a coupled model, we are able to predict anomalous JAS fire activity as early as April. We applied the method to predict the severe 2010 JAS season, which indicated strongly positive seasonal fire anomalies within the 95% prediction confidence intervals in most western Amazon. The spatial distribution of predicted SPI was also in accordance with observed precipitation anomalies. This three months lead time precipitation and fire prediction product in the western Amazon could help local decision makers to establish an early warning systems or other appropriate course of action before the fire season begins.
Wildfire forecasting
Rain and rainfall--Forecasting
Environmental sciences
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Katia Fernandes, Walter E. Baethgen, Sergio Bernardes, Ruth S. DeFries, David G. DeWitt, Lisa M. Goddard, Waldo Lavado, Dong Eun Lee, Christine Padoch, Miguel Angel Pinedo-Vasquez, Maria Uriarte, , North Tropical Atlantic influence on western Amazon fire season variability, Columbia University Academic Commons, .

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