Understanding of fire behaviour, especially fire spread, is mostly based on local-scale observations but the same equations are applied in global models on a much coarser scale. Most model formulations include the effect of wind speed with a positive influence on fire spread. Availability of global datasets offers new possibilities to evaluate these approaches based on local-scale observations at the global scale. Here, we analyse the relation between wind speed derived from three datasets and remotely sensed burned fraction (burned area divided by grid cell area) on a climate model grid scale. The bivariate relationship between burned fraction and wind speed is characterised by an initial increase in burned fraction and a decrease in burned fraction for wind speeds higher than 2-3ms-1. In a multivariate analysis we additionally included the effect of tree cover, precipitation or atmospheric moisture, temperature, vegetation net primary productivity and population density on burned fraction. This analysis confirmed the lack of an increase in burned fraction for high wind speeds on annual and daily time scale. From the observation-based analysis we conclude that a positive response of burned fraction for high wind speed should not be applied in coarse-scale global fire models.
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