Institute of Geography

Group Portrait

Forest fire danger in present and future climate in Switzerland

Climate change is expected to bring increased temperatures and longer droughts — weather conditions that will make forests more susceptible to fires. Therefore, it is of great interest to understand and better predict present and future occurrence of forest fire and its main drivers. 

The main objectives of this project are:

  • statistical reconstruction of meteorological fields on a high-resolution (~2 km) grid over Switzerland dating back to 1864.
  • calculation and calibration of fire weather indices with focus on Northern Switzerland.
  • forest fire and its relationship to large-scale atmospheric circulation.
  • assessments of the risk of forest fires as a result of climate change.


This work is part of the project "Waldbrandmanagement auf der Alpennordseite" in collaboration with the Climate Impact group, the Wyss Academy for Nature and the Canton of Bern.

  • Atmospheric and climate dynamics 
  • Extreme weather

D. Steinfeld, M. Sprenger, U. Beyerle, H. Wernli and S. Pfahl, 2021: Changes in atmospheric blocking dynamics in a warmer climate. in preparation

D. Steinfeld, M. Boettcher, R. Forbes and S. Pfahl, 2019: The sensitivity of atmospheric blocking to upstream latent heating - numerical experiments. Weather and Climate Dynamics, 1, 405-426, doi: 10.5194/wcd-1-405-2020

D. Steinfeld and S. Pfahl, 2019: The role of latent heating in atmospheric blocking dynamics - a global climatology. Climate Dynamics, 53, 6159-6180, doi: 10.1007/s00382-019-04919-6

M. Hegglli, B. Kochle, M. Matzl, B.R. Pinzer, F. Riche, S. Steiner, D. Steinfeld and M. Schneebeli, 2017: Measuring snow in 3-D using X-ray tomography: assessment of visualization techniques. Annals of Glaciology, 52, 231-236, doi: 10.3189/172756411797252202