Modeling Historical and Future Forest Fires in South Korea: The FLAM Optimization Approach

Hyun Woo Jo, Andrey Krasovskiy, Mina Hong, Shelby Corning, Whijin Kim, Florian Kraxner, Woo Kyun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Climate change-induced heat waves increase the global risk of forest fires, intensifying biomass burning and accelerating climate change in a vicious cycle. This presents a challenge to the response system in heavily forested South Korea, increasing the risk of more frequent and large-scale fire outbreaks. This study aims to optimize IIASA’s wildFire cLimate impacts and Adaptation Model (FLAM)—a processed-based model integrating biophysical and human impacts—to South Korea for projecting the pattern and scale of future forest fires. The developments performed in this study include: (1) the optimization of probability algorithms in FLAM based on the national GIS data downscaled to 1 km2 with additional factors introduced for national specific modeling; (2) the improvement of soil moisture computation by adjusting the Fine Fuel Moisture Code (FFMC) to represent vegetation feedbacks by fitting soil moisture to daily remote sensing data; and (3) projection of future forest fire frequency and burned area. Our results show that optimization has considerably improved the modeling of seasonal patterns of forest fire frequency. Pearson’s correlation coefficient between monthly predictions and observations from national statistics over 2016–2022 was improved from 0.171 in the non-optimized to 0.893 in the optimized FLAM. These findings imply that FLAM’s main algorithms for interpreting biophysical and human impacts on forest fire at a global scale are only applicable to South Korea after the optimization of all modules, and climate change is the main driver of the recent increases in forest fires. Projections for forest fire were produced for four periods until 2100 based on the forest management plan, which included three management scenarios (current, ideal, and overprotection). Ideal management led to a reduction of 60–70% of both fire frequency and burned area compared to the overprotection scenario. This study should be followed by research for developing adaptation strategies corresponding to the projected risks of future forest fires.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1446
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Mar

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was carried out with the support of R&D Program for Forest Science Technology (project No.2021345B10-2223-CD01) provided by Korea Forest Service (Korea Forestry Promotion Institute). This research was funded by the project “Integrated Future Wildfire Hot Spot Mapping for Austria (Austria Fire Futures)” number C265157, funded by the Climate and Energy Fund and carried out within the framework of the Austrian Climate Research Program (ACRP).

Funding Information:
This study was developed in the Young Scientists Summer Program at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg (Austria) with financial support from the National Research Foundation of Korea. Furthermore, we would like to acknowledge the International Boreal Forest Research Association (IBFRA, (accessed on 16 January 2023) and the COST Action (grant no. CA18135) “Fire in the Earth System: Science & Society” (FireLinks), supported by COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • South Korea
  • forest fire
  • model optimization
  • risk modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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