Cross-country risk quantification of extreme wildfires in Mediterranean Europe

Sarah Meier*, Eric Strobl, Robert J.R. Elliott, Nicholas Kettridge

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


We estimate the country-level risk of extreme wildfires defined by burned area (BA) for Mediterranean Europe and carry out a cross-country comparison. To this end, we avail of the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS) geospatial data from 2006 to 2019 to perform an extreme value analysis. More specifically, we apply a point process characterization of wildfire extremes using maximum likelihood estimation. By modeling covariates, we also evaluate potential trends and correlations with commonly known factors that drive or affect wildfire occurrence, such as the Fire Weather Index as a proxy for meteorological conditions, population density, land cover type, and seasonality. We find that the highest risk of extreme wildfires is in Portugal (PT), followed by Greece (GR), Spain (ES), and Italy (IT) with a 10-year BA return level of 50'338 ha, 33'242 ha, 25'165 ha, and 8'966 ha, respectively. Coupling our results with existing estimates of the monetary impact of large wildfires suggests expected losses of 162–439 million € (PT), 81–219 million € (ES), 41–290 million € (GR), and 18–78 million € (IT) for such 10-year return period events.

SUMMARY: We model the risk of extreme wildfires for Italy, Greece, Portugal, and Spain in form of burned area return levels, compare them, and estimate expected losses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1745-1762
Number of pages18
JournalRisk Analysis
Issue number9
Early online date12 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska‐Curie Grant Agreement Innovative Training Networks (ITN) No. 860787.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Risk Analysis published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Society for Risk Analysis.


  • environmental economics
  • environmental hazards
  • extreme value statistics
  • risk analysis
  • wildfires

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Physiology (medical)


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