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Spatio-Temporal variation in dry season determines the Amazonian fire calendar

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Article number125009
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>6/12/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>Environmental Research Letters
Issue number12
Number of pages11
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Fire is one of the main anthropogenic drivers that threatens the Amazon. Despite the clear link between rainfall and fire, the spatial and temporal relationship between these variables is still poorly understood in the Amazon. Here, we stratified the Amazon basin according to the dry season onset/end and investigated its relationship with the spatio-Temporal variation of fire. We used monthly time series of active fires from 2003 to 2019 to characterize the fire dynamics throughout the year and to identify the fire peak months. More than 50% (32 246) of the annual mean active fires occurred in the peak month. In 52% of the cells, the peaks occurred between August-September and in 48% between October-March, showing well-defined seasonal patterns related to spatio-Temporal variation of the dry season. Fire peaks occurred in the last two months of the dry season in 67% of the cells and in 20% in the first month of the rainy season. The shorter the dry season, the more concentrated was the occurrence of active fires in the peak month, with a predominance above 70% in cells with a dry season between one and three months. We defined a Critical Fire Period by identifying the consecutive months that concentrated at least 80% of active fires in the year. This period included two to three months between January and March in the northwest, and in the far north it lasted up to seven months, ending in March-April. In the south, it varied between two and three months, starting in August. In the northeast, it was three to four months, between August and December. By quantifying the role of the dry season in driving fire seasonality across the Amazon basin, we provide recommendations to monitor fire dynamics that can support decision makers in management policies and measures to avoid environmentally or socially harmful fires.