Work Package 5: Assessing against actual fire occurrence

We need to understand wildfire occurrence both spatially and temporally within the UK, in respect to population densities, land-use, and environmental change. Detailed wildfire records across England have only been collected since the introduction of the Home Office’s Incident Recording System (IRS), in FY 2009/10, but these records have provided useful insights into the characteristics of UK wildfire incidents. We will carry out extensive spatial analysis of this data set, including recent severe wildfire seasons such as summer of 2018 and 2019. Additionally, owing to the relatively recent period of operational IRS data and geographic focus, the historical fire regime of the UK also gives valuable insights. Therefore, we will also assess historical background trends and ‘hotspots’ in fire activity over the past 2000 years by compiling a sedimentary charcoal archives using the almost unparalleled number of published palaeorecords available for the UK.

Key research questions

RQ5.1: How well does the information from other work packages correlate with recent observations from national fire statistics (IRS) and historical wildfire occurrence?

RQ5.2: Can fire statistics be used to inform appropriate thresholds of fire danger derived from meteorological indices?

Planned deliverables

D5.1: Construction of historic UK wildfire ‘hotspots’ map. 

D5.2: Detailed spatial analysis of UK wildfire statistics (2009/10 – 2021/22), which will include new data from recent severe wildfire seasons (i.e. 2018 and 2019).

D5.3: Assessment of reliability of fire risk outcomes/indices or improvement over existing FWI and FMC (fuel moisture codes) information used in other systems.

Key organisations and team members: Portsmouth University (MH), University of Manchester (GC, GM-C), Forest Research (JM)