Climate & Environment

    Natural Catastrophes

Joint Research Initiative


Understanding Wildfire Risk: A Local-Scale Assessment Framework in Chile

Developing a framework for assessing the wildfire risk at local scale

Wildfire is a major hazard across the globe, causing extensive economic, ecological and health impacts. While wildfires are common throughout Chile due to the warm and dry summers, extreme wildfire seasons have been more frequent, as observed in 2017, 2023 and 2024 fire storms. Climate models indicate that climate conditions in Chile will get more favorable to wildfires underscoring the urgent need for advanced risk assessment and mitigation strategies. The Joint Research Initiative (JRI) led by the GEOFOREST Research group at the University of Zaragoza in collaboration with AXA Climate team aims to address these critical challenges and provide a comprehensive approach to quantify and evaluate the future environmental risks posed by wildfires in Chile.

The research team will focus on developing and improving quantitative methods to model wildfire risk, considering the influence of climate change on the frequency, intensity, and behavior of wildfires. By integrating probabilistic approaches and leveraging vegetation, topography, and climate data, the JRI aims to develop innovative strategies for wildfire spread modeling tailored taking Chile as a case study. These models will simulate thousands of wildfire seasons, providing insights into the likelihood and impact of wildfires at a high spatial resolution.

Specific objectives of the JRI include the development of wildfire ignition probabilistic models, upscaling of existing fuel mapping (with special focus on eucalypt plantations), and the evaluation of alternative wildfire spread models. The project will also encompass the assessment of critical factors of risk previously not covered, such as climate variability, to provide precise estimates of current and future wildfire risk conditions across Chile.

The research team will utilize advanced technologies, datasets, and methods to deliver a robust framework for computing wildfire risk at a local scale. By sharing the developed research findings with AXA Climate and the scientific community, the project seeks to disseminate its findings widely and contribute to the global understanding of wildfire risk assessment and management.

The results of this research effort will contribute to improving predictions of the impact of wildfires in Chile, enabling policymakers, insurers, and the business community to take proactive measures in mitigating their impact on society and the economy. The JRI represents a significant step forward in advancing wildfire risk assessment and mitigation strategies, with the potential to benefit not only Chile but also other regions facing similar wildfire challenges around the world.



University of Zaragoza





ORCID Open Researcher and Contributor ID, a unique and persistent identifier to researchers