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Advances in Meteorology
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 748923, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/748923
Research Article

The Influence of Precipitation and Consecutive Dry Days on Burned Areas in Yunnan Province, Southwestern China

1College of Forestry, Beijing Forestry University, Beijing 100083, China
2Department of Forestry, College of Forest Resources, Mississippi State University, Oktibbeha County, MS 39762, USA

Received 28 January 2014; Revised 4 April 2014; Accepted 16 April 2014; Published 18 May 2014

Academic Editor: Hann-Ming H. Juang

Copyright © 2014 Feng Chen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Precipitation is among the more limiting meteorological factors affecting the occurrence and extent of forest fire. We examined the correlation between burned area of individual wildfires and the rainfall amounts occurring on the day of the burn and the number of consecutive dry days for a range of limiting daily rainfall amounts (0–6mm) used to define a “dry” day. Daily threshold rainfall levels that most significantly affected area burned were determined for each ecoregion in Yunnan province, a major fire-prone area, in southwestern China. Results showed that the burned area of a wildfire decreased exponentially with increasing rainfall amounts on the day of burning. Burned area was also positively correlated to the number of consecutive dry days prior to burning. The threshold rainfall value providing the highest correlation between burned area and the number of consecutive dry days prior to a burn varied between ecoregions. Consecutive dry days with rainfall less than the specified threshold predominantly affected large fires (>100 ha) rather than more frequently occurring small fires. These results will help forest managers evaluate regionalfire danger indices for forest fire prevention, particularly for catastrophic forest wildfires causing significant economic losses and threats to human life and environment.