. California Climate and Fire Weather

Richard A. Minnich

in Fire in California's Ecosystems

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2006 | ISBN: 9780520246058
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520932272 | DOI:
. California Climate and Fire Weather

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This chapter starts by exploring some basic principles of weather. It then describes California’s Mediterranean climate from the standpoint of atmospheric circulation. This is followed by short-term weather conditions associated with fire spread, and climate variability and its possible role in fire regimes. The Mediterranean climate results from seasonal changes in global circulation, including California’s marginal position to the jet stream and the presence of cold, upwelling ocean waters offshore. The weather influences fire outcomes by altering vegetation fuel moisture and the efficiency of heat transfer in combustion. The El Niño/Southern Oscillation and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation influence the amount and distribution of water vapor that is evaporated into the air, condensed into clouds, and rained back to earth. The effect of precipitation variability is modulated by patch structure in which changes in regional fire hazard result in only finite portions of stands achieving flammability thresholds.

Keywords: weather; California; Mediterranean climate; atmospheric circulation; fire; climate variability; El Niño; Southern Oscillation; Pacific Decadal Oscillation

Chapter.  14344 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Animal Pathology and Diseases

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