Tree-ring records of fires were used to examine the effects of inter-annual climatic variability on fire occurrence in forests dominated by the fire-adapted Araucaria araucana in the Andes of south-central Chile. Instrumental as well as tree-ring proxy records of climate indicate that low moisture availability is the main factor influencing fire occurrence. Years of widespread fire are strongly associated with warmer and drier summers. Years of extensive fire also tend to be favoured by one or two preceding years of dry climatic conditions. The El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and its strong influence over large-scale climatic features is an important factor promoting fire activity. Years of high fire activity coincide with warm and dry summers following El Niño events. Fire in the Araucarian region is strongly related to inter-annual climatic variation associated primarily with the coupled effect of ENSO events and variations in the intensity and latitudinal position of the southeast Pacific anticyclone.
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Vol. 13 • No. 3