The ENSO-fire dynamic in insular Southeast Asia

Douglas O. Fuller, Kevin Murphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


We examined the spatiotemporal patterns of fire in insular Southeast Asia from July 1996 to December 2001 using a set of consistent, nighttime fire observations provided by the Along Track Scanning Radiometer (ATSR) sensor. Monthly ATSR fire counts were analyzed relative to georeferenced climatic and land-cover data from a variety of sources. We found that fires were strongly correlated with Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) (r = -0.75) and Niño 3.4 index (r = 0.72) in forested land-cover types within the equatorial belt (5.5°S-5.5°N). Cross-correlation analysis revealed that detrended SOI was modestly correlated (r = 0.42) with detrended monthly fire count with a positive lag of four months. However, our analysis also revealed that fire counts reached their maximum 6 months before the absolute maximum of SOI. Annual sums of SOI (ΣSOI) and fire counts revealed linearity for ΣSOI≤ 0. Overall, the results suggest that ENSO indices may have limited predictive utility at a monthly time scale, but that temporal aggregation and additional fire observations may enhance our capacity to forecast fires in different cover types based on ENSO data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-455
Number of pages21
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


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