Faculty Publications


A statistical relationship between the El Nino-Southern Oscillation and Florida wildfire occurrence.

SelectedWorks Author Profiles:

Christopher F. Meindl

Document Type


Publication Date


Date Issued

January 2001

Date Available

June 2014




Wildfires have long been an important environmental concern in Florida. Recent wildfires along the urban-rural interface of large cities in Florida have pointed to the need for an increased understanding of the physical and biological mechanisms that govern wildfire occurrence. Increased awareness of the relationships between global climate changes occurring in the tropics and their teleconnections outside the tropics dictate a reevaluation of the role of phenomena such as El Niño-Southern Oscillation on the risk of wildfire. One simple way of illustrating the relationship between ENSO and wildfire occurrence is the use of an Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) on wildfire data that has been categorized according to ENSO status (El Niño, La Niña, and neutral years). This research shows that a statistically significant relationship exists between ENSO conditions and annual wildfire occurrence in Florida when ENSO conditions are treated as a potential precursor to wildfire conditions. In particular, a statistically significant relationship exists between both acreage burned and average fire size, when the data are separated into El Niño and La Niña categories according to the previous year's ENSO status. This supports the idea that the climate from previous years has a measurable effect upon fire statistics in the years following the climate measurements, and that it may be possible to create a regional fire prediction model that incorporates ENSO information.


Abstract only. Full-text article is available only through licensed access provided by the publisher. Published in Physical Geography, 22 (3), 187-203. DOI: 10.1080/02723646.2001.10642737 Members of the USF System may access the full-text of the article through the authenticated link provided.




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