Siberian fires and climate change

Posted by fh56 at Aug 23, 2011 08:44 AM |
Professor Balzter gave an invited keynote speech at an international expert workshop hosted by the Russian Aerial Forest Fire Centre (Avialesookhrana) and the Russian Space Research Institute in Moscow from 15-17 November.

He addressed an audience from several provinces of Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine and other participating nations. Professor Balzter’s research into forest fires in Siberia using satellite monitoring techniques has highlighted the importance of climate change in the Siberian fire regime. The most catastrophic fires occurred under certain polar weather patterns. This climate pattern is called the ‘Arctic Oscillation’. In its ‘positive phase’ it leads to acceleration and tightening of the band of polar winds circling around the North Pole. In this climate state Siberia witnessed extreme forest fire outbreaks devastating thousands of square kilometers of forest.

“The burned area map we produced for the SIBERIA-2 project served the main purpose to improve the full greenhouse gas account for the region. But it has been used by the foresters in Krasnoyarsk to update forest stand age data in their geographical information system”, says Professor Balzter. “The forest fire protection experts showed great interest in exploring whether we can predict next year’s fire extent. It is early days, but I am very pleased to have won a new collaborative research grant to develop a fire modelling and forecasting system using satellite data and vegetation models.”


  1. “Fire Modelling and Forecasting System (FireMAFS)” is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), with principal investigator Professor Wooster, Kings College London
  2. “Earth Observation for Assessment of Forest Disturbances induced Carbon Emissions in Central Siberia (SibFORD)” is funded by the EC INTAS programme, with principal investigator Professor Schmullius, University of Jena, Germany

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