Lightning-ignited fire is sensitive to climatic change and responsible for large fires in boreal forests. In addition to global-warming caused fire increase, large-scale climate oscillations have significantly contributed to fire variability. However, the leading climate oscillation driving lightning-ignited fire and the mechanisms connecting regional and large-scale climate in the boreal forest of Northeast China, the most fire-prone biome of China, are still unclear. By compositing fire, climate, and atmospheric data, we found that the previous Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) was significantly coherent with the May to August temperature–evapotranspiration variability and lightning-ignited fire occurrence. These connections were valid at both the interannual and multidecadal time scales. Different from previous viewpoints, we found no connection of fire occurrence with the El Niño-Southern Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation. A warm AMO was followed by high sea level pressure and geopotential height over the study region. We assume these atmospheric anomalies are associated with descending atmospheric motion, producing adiabatic warming and less precipitation on the land surface, both of which favour high fuel aridity and lightning ignition. Therefore, we believe that the winter AMO could be a promising predictor for lightning-ignited fire occurrences in the following summer.
Cong Gao, Feng-jun Zhao, Chunming Shi
Environmental Research Letters