Changes in Australian fire weather between 1973 and 2010

Hamish Clarke*, Christopher Lucas, Peter Smith

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

130 Citations (Scopus)


A data set of observed fire weather in Australia from 1973-2010 is analysed for trends using the McArthur Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI). Annual cumulative FFDI, which integrates daily fire weather across the year, increased significantly at 16 of 38 stations. Annual 90th percentile FFDI increased significantly at 24 stations over the same period. None of the stations examined recorded a significant decrease in FFDI. There is an overall bias in the number of significant increases towards the southeast of the continent, while the largest trends occur in the interior of the continent and the smallest occur near the coast. The largest increases in seasonal FFDI occurred during spring and autumn, although with different spatial patterns, while summer recorded the fewest significant trends. These trends suggest increased fire weather conditions at many locations across Australia, due to both increased magnitude of FFDI and a lengthened fire season. Although these trends are consistent with projected impacts of climate change on FFDI, this study cannot separate the influence of climate change, if any, with that of natural variability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)931-944
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Climatology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Bush fire
  • Forest Fire Danger Index
  • Observations
  • Trends
  • Wildfire
  • Wildland fire


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