Aug 24, 2014

Climate and very large wildland fires in the contiguous western USA

by
E. Natasha Stavros, John Abatzoglou, Narasimhan K. Larkin, Donald McKenzie, E. Ashley Steel
,
International Journal of Wildland Fire
  • Examines how climate is associated with very large wildland fires (VLWFs ≥50 000 acres, or ~20 234 ha) in the western contiguous USA
  • Uses composite records of climate and fire to investigate the spatial and temporal variability of VLWF–climatic relationships
  • Results showed quantifiable fire weather leading up and up to 3 weeks post VLWF discovery, thus providing predictors of the probability that VLWF occurrence in a given week
  • Creates models for eight National Interagency Fire Center Geographic Area Coordination Centers (GACCs)
  • States that accuracy was good (AUC > 0.80) for all models, but significant fire weather predictors of VLWFs vary by GACC, suggesting that broad-scale ecological mechanisms associated with wildfires also vary across regions
  • States that these mechanisms are very similar to those found by previous analyses of annual area burned, but this analysis provides a means for anticipating VLWFs specifically and thereby the timing of substantial area burned within a given year, thus providing a quantifiable justification for proactive fire management practices to mitigate the risk and associated damage of VLWFs