Strong winds drive grassland fires in China

Zhou Wang, Ru Huang, Qichao Yao, Xuezheng Zong, Xiaorui Tian, Ben Zheng, Valerie Trouet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Accounting for 41.7% of China’s total land area, grasslands are linked to the livelihoods of over 20 million people. Although grassland fires cause severe damage in China every year, their spatiotemporal patterns and climate drivers are not well understood. In this study, we used grassland fire record forms provided by the National Forestry and Grassland Administration and grassland fire location data from the Wildfire Atlas of China to examine the spatiotemporal patterns and and seasonality of fires in China for the period from 2008 to 2020. We found that most grassland fires occurred in Inner Mongolia in northern China, specifically in the Hulun Buir and Xilingol grasslands. We found distinct differences in fire seasonality in northern China, which has a major fire season in April, versus southwestern China, where the major fire season occurs in February, March and April. April grassland fires in northern China are the result of strong winds, typically from the west, and spring drought. A secondary fire season in northern China occurs in October and is also driven by strong winds. The fire season in southwestern China seems to be less shaped by climatic factors such as wind speed, precipitation, and drought. This study provides support for decision-making by fire prevention and fire management authorities in China.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number015005
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023


  • fire ecology
  • fire seasonality
  • grassfire
  • grasslands
  • spatiotemporal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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