Summer Midlatitude Stationary Wave Patterns Synchronize Northern Hemisphere Wildfire Occurrence

Hien X. Bui, Axel Timmermann, June Yi Lee, Eric D. Maloney, Yi Xian Li, Ji Eun Kim, Jacquelyn Shuman, Sun Seon Lee, William R. Wieder

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Midlatitude stationary waves are relatively persistent large-scale longitudinal variations in atmospheric circulation. Although recent case studies have suggested a close connection between stationary waves and extreme weather events, little is known about the global-scale linkage between stationary waves and wildfire activity, as well as the potential changes in this relationship in a warmer climate. Here, by analyzing the Community Earth System Model version 2 large ensemble, we show that a zonal wavenumber 5–6 stationary wave pattern tends to synchronize wildfire occurrences across the Northern Hemisphere midlatitudes. The alternation of upper-troposphere ridges and troughs creates a hemispheric-scale spatial pattern of alternating hot/dry and cold/wet conditions, which increases or decreases wildfire occurrence, respectively. More persistent high-pressure conditions drastically increase wildfire probabilities. Even though the dynamics of these waves change little in response to anthropogenic global warming, the corresponding midlatitude wildfire variability is projected to intensify due to changes in climate background conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2022GL099017
Number of pages10
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2022

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