Aug 24, 2014

Climate and very large wildland fires in the contiguous western USA

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