Is Portugal Starting to Burn All Year Long? The Transboundary Fire in January 2022

Changes in the large fire seasons induced by climate variability may have implications in several sectors of modern society. This communication aims to investigate possible changes in the behaviour of active fires during the wintertime and document an event that occurred in the transboundary mountainous region in the north-western Iberian Peninsula between Portugal and Spain on 28 January 2022. The VIIRS active fire data, a satellite product, were analysed for the period between December 2012 and February 2022. The Meso-NH model was used to explore the atmospheric conditions during the event that burned almost 2400 ha. It was configured in a single domain with a horizontal resolution of 1500 m (300 × 300 grid points). The study highlights an increase in fire occurrence during the winter of 2021/22 and indicates that climate variability may create atmospheric conditions propitious for fire development even during the winter. The mild temperatures, dry air, and easterly flow affecting northern Portugal played an important role in the fire that occurred on 28 January 2022. Local orographic effects associated with downslope flow favoured fire propagation. Given the lack of knowledge about large winter fires, this study can be a starting point for future research on this subject.

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Couto, F.T.; Santos, F.L.M.; Campos, C.; Andrade, N.; Purificação, C.; Salgado, R. Is Portugal Starting to Burn All Year Long? The Transboundary Fire in January 2022. Atmosphere 2022, 13, 1677.