Quantifying Large-Scale Patterns of Forest Fire Occurrence
PARTNERS: North Carolina State University (NCSU) Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, USDA Forest Service Forest Health Monitoring Program, USDA Forest Service Forest Health Protection
SUMMARY: Forest fire occurrence outside the historic range of frequency and intensity can result in extensive economic and ecological impacts. Quantifying and monitoring broad-scale patterns of fire occurrence across the United States can help provide a fuller understanding of the ecological and economic impacts of fire, and of the appropriate management and prescribed use of fire. Specifically, large-scale assessments of fire occurrence can help identify areas where specific management activities may be useful, or where research into the ecological and socioeconomic impacts of fires may be necessary.
It is a major challenge, however, to summarize fine-scale fire occurrence data (from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer [MODIS] Active Fire Detections for the United States database) in a way that is useful for national forest health monitoring efforts. To address this challenge, an EFETAC cooperator at North Carolina State University developed an approach for quantifying statistically significant geographic hot spots of fire occurrence at a continental scale. The approach employs the Getis-Ord G i* spatial clustering statistic to find areas with more satellite-derived MODIS fire occurrence detections than expected by chance. The numbers of fire occurrences per area of forest are also presented by ecoregion, both for the conterminous United States and for Alaska.
Hotspots of fire occurrence across the conterminous United States for 2010. Values are Getis-Ord G i* scores, with values greater than 2 representing significant clustering of high numbers of fire occurrences. (No areas of significant clustering of low numbers of fire occurrences, -2, were detected). Click image to enlarge.
EFETAC'S ROLE: This project is supported by EFETAC funding.
PROGRESS: The quantification of large-scale patterns of forest fire occurrence, using MODIS Active Fire detections data, has become a standard component within the annual Forest Health Monitoring National Technical Reports. Chapters presenting the results are included in the 2008-2012 editions. A manuscript under development will describe this approach for a peer-reviewed environmental monitoring journal. This research has been described in a number of other publications and presentations.
CONTACT: Kevin Potter, NCSU Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources, firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 549-4071
Updated December 2012