Caribbean fire weather monitor
Click on any Caribbean country or territory below to find out its latest nation-/territory-wide state of fire weather. This is done by plotting weekly averages of the Daily Severity Rating or DSR (i.e., a numeric rating of the difficulty of controlling fires as developed by the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index (FWI) System). This is plotted against the DSR’s climatological seasonality. The near-real time plots contain data that are updated once per week.
(Important note: by clicking, you will download the graph directly from CIMH’s AWS Cloud service.)
Background – Monitoring fire weather
Historical climate data are useful to characterise the typical seasonality and identify a range of temporal variability in any meteorological variable or climate-related hazard. Such information therefore provides the historical context of climatic risk.
In the Caribbean, the connection between Saharan dust incursions and respiratory illness is well recognised. For more information on and monitoring and forecasting products on Saharan dust incursions in the Caribbean, see http://sds-was.cimh.edu.bb/
As our climate is warming, evapotranspiration rates increase, often leaving less moisture in the soil, affecting the health of vegetation and more easily converting plant material into a combustible fuel source. As the frequency of occurrence of periods during which soils are drier, vegetation desiccates and air temperatures increase, the risk of wildfires (incl. brush/bush fires, grass fires, cane fires etc.) is increasing as a local expression of Climate Change in Caribbean countries.
In response to the increasing wild fire risk, the Caribbean Regional Climate Centre has been working with the Global Wildfire Information System (GWIS) of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (https://gwis.jrc.ec.europa.eu/), to develop and provide a climatological seasonality and weekly monitoring product. This work has been made possible by the Intra-ACP Climate Services and Applications programme and funded through the European Union’s 11th EDF.
Here, we give one example of a graph that tracks the weekly Daily Severity Rating (i.e., a numeric rating of the difficulty of controlling fires as developed by the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index (FWI) System) against its climatological seasonality, including the historical weekly average, minimum and maximum value. In this example, the DSR is shown for Barbados as of 26 March 2023 at a time when unusually frequent wildfire occurrence had been causing respiratory discomfort, with school closures and an increase in respiratory illnesses was rampant.
In the right column of this webpage, you can find up-to-date graphs for 25 Caribbean countries and territories.
Figure 1 Daily Severity Rating Graph for Barbados as of 26 March 2023. The Daily Severity Rating (DSR) is a numeric rating of the difficulty of controlling fires as developed by the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index (FWI) System. Source: Modified from JRC – GWIS (https://gwis.jrc.ec.europa.eu/).
Global Wildfire Information System (GWIS)
The JRC’s GWIS is an integrated service publicly available at https://gwis.jrc.ec.europa.eu/ Besides offering seasonality and monitoring information on fire risk using a multitude of fire indices as estimated by remotely sensed information using satellite data. In addition, using two climate forecast models, 10-day forecasts of some of these indices are provided. These can be accessed and are visualised at https://gwis.jrc.ec.europa.eu/apps/gwis_current_situation/.
Wildfire Indices – the Fire Weather Index System
Canada has developed and utilises a range of indices to support decision-making and preventative and response action in wildfire management, which are contained within the Canadian Forest Fire Weather Index (FWI) System. The FWI System measures wildfire potential. The quantitative information contained in a range of indices is calculated based on fuel moisture content and weather conditions. It comprises six components and calculates its indices using daily observations of temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and 24-hour precipitation. As such, the FWI System rates relative potential for wildland fire, e.g., the Fire Weather Index (FWI).
The below information was taken from https://cwfis.cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/background/summary/fwi.
Fire Weather Index (FWI)
The Fire Weather Index (FWI) is a numeric rating of fire intensity. It is based on the ISI and the BUI, and is used as a general index of fire danger throughout the forested areas of Canada.
Daily Severity Rating (DSR)
The Daily Severity Rating (DSR), an additional component of the FWI system, is a numeric rating of the difficulty of controlling fires. It is based on the Fire Weather Index but it more accurately reflects the expected effort required for fire suppression.
The information contained herein is provided with the understanding that the CIMH makes no warranties, either expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness, reliability, or suitability of the Outlook. The information may be used freely by the public with appropriate acknowledgement of its source, but shall not be modified in content and then presented as original material.