University Of Tasmania

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Reconstructing seasonal fire danger in southeastern Australia using tree rings

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 07:37 authored by Kathryn AllenKathryn Allen, Stewart, SB, Tozer, C, Richardson, D, Nitschke, C, Risbey, J, Dowdy, A, Brookhouse, M, Fox-Hughes, P, Peterson, M, Baker, PJ
Climate projections indicate that dangerous fire weather will become more common over the coming century. We examine the potential of a network of temperature- and moisture-sensitive tree-ring sites in southeastern Australia to reconstruct the number of high fire-danger days for the January–March season. Using the Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI), we show that modestly statistically skilful reconstructions for the far southeast of Australia (western Tasmania), where the majority of tree-ring predictors are located, can be developed. According to the averaged reconstructions for the 1590–2008 period, there have been 16 years prior to the start of the FFDI records (1950), and 7 years since 1950, with >48 (mean + 1σ) high fire-danger days in the 3-month season. The western Tasmanian reconstructions indicate extended relatively high fire-danger periods in the 1650s–1660s and 1880s–1890s. Fire danger has also been relatively high since 2000 CE. A persistent increase in the number of high fire-danger days over the past four decades has not been matched over the previous 390 years. This work indicates it is possible to produce statistically useful reconstructions of high seasonal fire danger – as opposed to fire occurrence – but that availability of local proxy records is key.


Australian Research Council


Publication title

International Journal of Wildland Fire










School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences


CSIRO Publishing

Place of publication

150 Oxford St, Po Box 1139, Collingwood, Australia, Victoria, 3066

Rights statement

Copyright 2022 The Author(s) (or their employer(s)). Published by CSIRO Publishing on behalf of IAWF.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Climatological hazards (e.g. extreme temperatures, drought and wildfires); Climate variability (excl. social impacts)