Human presence diminishes the importance of climate in driving fire activity across the US

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Projections of worsening wildfire conditions under climate change are a major concern in policy and management, but there is little understanding of geographical variation in fire-climate relationships. This analysis relating climate variables to historical fire activity across the United States showed substantial variability in the importance of different seasonal temperature and precipitation variables and of climate overall in explaining fire activity. Climate was significantly less important where humans were more prevalent, suggesting that human influence could override or even exceed the effect of climate change on fire activity. Although climate change may play a significant role in altering future fire regimes, geographical context and human influence should also be accounted for in management and policy decisions.