With over 250k hectares of burnt land in Europe, this year's fire season started early and has already surpassed the 181k hectares burnt over the entire 2018 fire season.
The JRC's European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) has recorded 1233 fires of about 30 hectares or more up to the end of April.
That's just above the total seen for the whole of 2018 (1192 fires) and nearly eleven times the 10-year average for this time of year (115 fires).
From Norway to Spain, the UK to Romania, data from EFFIS shows that the number and severity of fires seen at the start of this year have been drastically different from that of previous decades.
EFFIS provides the most up to date information on fire danger and fire impacts in the EU, with the latest data to identify the evolution and trends of wildfires.
This helps authorities monitor wildfires and respond effectively when an emergency happens.
These observations come as EFFIS publishes its 2018 advance report, which shows a trend of more intense wildfires happening over a longer period of the year.
There's also been an expansion of risk areas to countries where wildfires were not so common in the past - including Sweden, Latvia, Germany and the UK – which has been confirmed by the wildfire trends seen this year too.
The final 'Forest Fires in Europe, Middle East and North Africa 2018' report, which will include national statistics from all countries contributing to EFFIS, is expected later this year.
JRC scientists have also been investigating the factors affecting fire danger across the continent as well as the costs and dangers associated with them.
EU assistance for wildfire response
EFFIS is one part of the Copernicus Emergency Management Service. As fires raged across Europe at the height of summer last year, both EFFIS and the Rapid Mapping services provided critical information to help with emergency response efforts.
Copernicus is the EU's Earth observation programme, providing high-quality environmental monitoring, emergency management and support for border and maritime security.
In order to strengthen the EU's collective response to disasters like major wildfires, rescEU has recently entered into force.
This initiative upgrades the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, establishing a new European reserve of capacities including firefighting planes and helicopters, while boosting disaster prevention and preparedness measures.
To ensure that Europe is prepared for this year's forest fire season, the new legislation includes a transition phase during which participating countries can get funding in exchange for putting their firefighting means at the disposal of the EU.
- Publication date
- 14 May 2019