Postdoc – Modelling wildfire activity in Mediterranean areas and its climatic drivers

at at Irstea (Aix-en-Provence, France)

Wildfires are major disturbances in Mediterranean ecosystems worldwide. Every year, over 60.000 fires are recorded in Europe, mainly in the South, burning more than 0.6 MHa (JRC 2012). Predictions from almost all models indicate that fire risk is predicted to increase in some areas of the globe, but to decreases in others (Scholze et al., 2006; Krawchuk et al., 2009; Pechony & Shindell, 2010) due to climatic change and changes in land uses and land covers.

The post-doc aims to assess the main drivers of fire activity in Mediterranean areas, with a special focus on relationships between weather and climate. This issue has strong implication for action since wildfires are a main threat to humans and ecosystems in Mediterranean areas, and because the forecasted changes will challenge the policy-makers and the land managers. This postdoc is part of a joint research project between Irstea (France), Cerege (France), and the University of Lisbon (Portugal). The postdoc will work on recent databases on fires, vegetation, human pressure, and climatic data (past decades and regional climate change models). We expect that the postdoc may enhance the possibility of extrapolating the results and information gained in Provence (France) and Portugal to other countries having similar climate, ecosystems, and human footprint such as Spain or Greece.

The post-doc will have to address the following issues: (i) Assessing which local meteorological and synoptic conditions, and which weather types drive the fire activity, with special focus on atmospheric conditions associated with largest fires (as those during the summer of 2003) and interannual and decadal climatic variability; (ii) Estimating the future of fire-related climatic conditions (as frequency of the weather types related to large fires) till 2100 using CMIP5 runs.

Require profile, skills and abilities

PhD in meteorology/climatology, or ecology
Knowledge in fire risk, or climate modelling
Programming skill in R or Matlab, and in GIS (ArcGis, QGIS or others)