El Niño and Fire Weather on Pacific Islands

The current (2015-2016), strong El Niño is forecast to bring dry conditions to our region this winter and spring.  This PFX fact sheet illustrates how droughts under prior El Niños have resulted in extensive fires across the region.  This indicates the current forecast is an opportunity to plan and increase preparedness for conditions of higher fire danger.

Wildfire in Hawaii

PFX's first fact sheet presenting Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization's State of Hawaii Wildfire History Map and Dr. Clay Trauernicht's data analysis and key findings from his research using HWMO's data.

"Over the past decade, an average of >1000 wildfires burned >17,000 acres each year in Hawai‘i, with the percentage of total land area burned comparable to and often exceeding figures for the fire-prone western US (Fig. 1). Humans have caused much of the increase in wildfire threat by increasing the abundance of ignitions (Fig. 2) and introducing nonnative, fire-prone grasses and shrubs. Nonnative grasslands and shrublands now cover nearly one quarter of Hawaii's total land area and, together with a warming, drying climate and year round fire season, greatly increase the incidence of larger fires (Fig. 3), especially in leeward areas. Wildfires were once limited in Hawai‘i to active volcanic eruptions and infrequent dry lightning strikes. However, the dramatic increase in wildfire prevalence poses serious threats to human safety, infrastructure, agricultural production, cultural resources, native ecosystems, watershed functioning, and nearshore coastal resources statewide."