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Forest fire danger (CLIM 035) - Assessment published Sep 2008

Indicator Assessment Created 08 Sep 2008 Published 08 Sep 2008 Last modified 11 Sep 2012, 04:51 PM
Topics: ,

Update planned for November 2012

Generic metadata


Climate change Climate change (Primary topic)

climate change | climate | fires | global warming | temperatures
DPSIR: Impact
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • CLIM 035
Temporal coverage:
1958-2006, 2071-2098
Geographic coverage:
Europe, Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia (FYR), Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom

Key policy question: .

Key messages

  • In a warmer climate, more severe fire weather is expected and, as a consequence, more area burned, more ignitions and longer fire seasons.
  • Climate change will increase the fire potential during summer months, especially in southern and central Europe.
  • The period during which fire danger exists will become longer as a result of climate change, with a probable increase in the frequency of extreme fire danger days in spring and autumn.

Average annual changes in fire danger level 1958-2006

Note: Based on use of Seasonal Severity Rating (SSR)

Data source:

Camia, A.; Amatulli G.; San-Miguel-Ayanz, J., 2008. Past and future trends of forest fire danger in Europe. EUR Technical Report (EUR 23124).

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Modelled three-monthly fire danger levels in Europe for 1961-1990 and 2071-2100 and change between these periods

Note: Based on the IPCC SRES high emissions A2 scenario and the HIRAM model

Data source:

Camia, A.; Amatulli G.; San-Miguel-Ayanz, J., 2008. Past and future trends of forest fire danger in Europe. EUR Technical Report (EUR 23124).

Downloads and more info

Key assessment

Past trends

Fire risk depends on many factors of a different nature that change over time (e.g. weather, fuel load, fuel type and condition, forest management practices, socio-economic context). Historic fire series can be used to support statements on trends but, unfortunately, long and consistent time series of fire events are rarely available in Europe. In addition, by looking at the historic fire series alone, it is difficult to get a clear picture and recognize the effect of climate on fire potential. In contrast, meteorological fire danger indices, which are designed to rate the component of fire risk that depends on weather conditions, can be usefully employed to analyse fire trends in a consistent way over longer periods. These indices, normally applied on a daily basis, can be summarised on a seasonal basis to rate the overall fire potential of a given year (seasonal fire severity) due to meteorological conditions. The index of Seasonal Severity Rating (SSR) has been derived from daily values of Van Wagner's Fire Weather Index (FWI), Van Wagner (1987), the fire danger assessment method most widely applied throughout the world (San Miguel-Ayanz et al., 2003). Results of a recent study on SSR development are shown in Figure 1.
The average trend for 1958-2006 was computed for all the grid cells, but it was statistically significant for only 21 % of the cases (15 % positive and 6 % negative), which appear to be concentrated in specific geographical areas.


Projections were derived for the IPCC SRES scenario A2, processing data from the PRUDENCE data archive, namely the daily-high resolution data (12 km) from the HIRHAM model run by DMI, for the time periods 1960-1990 (control) and 2070-2100 (projections) (see Figure 2). In agreement with a similar assessment performed for North America (Flannigan et al., 2005), the results for Europe confirm a significant increase of fire potential, an enlargement of the fire-prone area and a lengthening of the fire season.

Data sources

More information about this indicator

See this indicator specification for more details.

Contacts and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Hans-Martin Füssel


EEA Management Plan

2008 2.3.1 (note: EEA internal system)


European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100