Fire activity as measured by burned area reveals weak effects of ENSO in China


Wildfire activity is being perceived as an increasing problem in many areas worldwide, but its definition remains elusive and difficult to quantify at large spatial scales. A recent study, based on a comprehensive database of fire occurrences (Wildfire Atlas of China, WFAC)1, concluded that the majority of fire activity in China is concentrated in its tropical and subtropical forests and significantly driven by ENSO. Here we demonstrate that a very different picture emerges when wildfire activity is assessed from burned area instead. Using fire occurrences as the sole indicator of fire activity, particularly to compare regions with markedly different fire regimes, may lead to incomplete descriptions of fire activity with potential implications for fire policy recommendations.

Nature Communications