Wildfire is a serious hazard in California. Several studies have indicating that the risk of wildfire will increase with climate change. This tool explores wildfire scenario projections done by Dr. LeRoy Westerling at the University of California Merced, using a statistical model based on historical data of climate, vegetation, population density, and fire history coupled with regionally downscaled LOCA climate projections.

The fire modeling ran simulations on five variables on a monthly time step — large fire presence/absence, number of fires given presence, area burned per fire given a fire in a grid cell and, high severity burned area given a fire, and emissionsfire severity or the vegetation fraction removed by fire. Details are described in Westerling et al., forthcoming [4th Assessment report or white paper].

Annual Area Burned
averaged over Select Time Interval
Model: Select
Scenario: Select
Population Growth Scenario: Select
1960–1969
Modeled Data (1960–2099)
1 Hectares 100+

Annual Average of Area Burned

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Population Growth Projections - Central

Climate Models

This chart shows modeled annual averages of area burned for the selected area on map under the RCP 4.5 scenario.

* These models have been selected by California state agencies as priority models for Fourth Assessment Research.

Use year sliders to get means for different time periods. The projected mean is calculated for all visible models in the chart. Use slider below the chart to zoom and pan within the chart.

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Wildfire Scenario Projections in California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment

Dr. LeRoy Westerling - University of California, Merced

Wildfire scenario projections were done by Dr. LeRoy Westerling at the University of California Merced, based on statistical modeling from historical data of climate, vegetation, population density, and fire history. The fire modeling ran simulations on twofive variables on a monthly time step—large fire presence/absence, number of fires given presence, area burned in a grid cell and, high severity burned area given a fire, and emissionsfire severity or the vegetation fraction removed by fire. The modeling used the LOCA climate projections as inputs and therefore is considered as secondary scenarios in the Fourth Assessment. Details are described in Westerling et al., forthcoming [4th Assessment report or white paper].