What is it about?

This study is about possible changes in the behaviour of active fires during the wintertime (2013-2022) and a fire event that occurred in the transboundary mountainous region between Portugal and Spain in January 2022. The VIIRS active fire data, a satellite product, were analysed for the period between December 2012 and February 2022. The Meso-NH model was used to explore the atmospheric conditions during the event that burned almost 2400 ha. It was configured in a single domain with a horizontal resolution of 1500 m. The mild temperatures, dry air, and easterly flow affecting northern Portugal played an important role in the fire that occurred on 28 January 2022.

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Why is it important?

This study highlights an increase in fire occurrence during the winter of 2021/22 and indicates that climate variability may create atmospheric conditions propitious for fire development even during the winter. It contributes to increasing the knowledge of different scenarios for large fire occurrences throughout the year, as well as in regions where the local conditions appear to be very important for fire propagation when combined with the weather conditions. The Meso-NH model simulated orographic effects, namely, the development of intense downslope winds.


Under climate change scenarios, it is likely that the danger of fires increases in specific regions beyond the summertime, and this study can be seen as a starting point for future research about how climate changes may influence a fire’s behaviour throughout all seasons.

Dr Flavio T. Couto
Instituto de Ciências da Terra, Universidade de Évora

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Is Portugal Starting to Burn All Year Long? The Transboundary Fire in January 2022, Atmosphere, October 2022, MDPI AG,
DOI: 10.3390/atmos13101677.
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