Contemporary (1984–2020) fire history metrics for the conterminous United States and ecoregional differences by land ownership

International Journal of Wildland Fire
By: , and 

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Abstract

Background: Remotely sensed burned area products are critical to support fire modelling, policy, and management but often require further processing before use.

Aim: We calculated fire history metrics from the Landsat Burned Area Product (1984–2020) across the conterminous U.S. (CONUS) including (1) fire frequency, (2) time since last burn (TSLB), (3) year of last burn, (4) longest fire-free interval, (5) average fire interval length, and (6) contemporary fire return interval (cFRI).

Methods: Metrics were summarised by ecoregion and land ownership, and related to historical and cheatgrass datasets to demonstrate further applications of the products.

Key results: The proportion burned ranged from 0.7% in the Northeast Mixed Woods to 74.1% in the Kansas Flint Hills. The Flint Hills and Temperate Prairies showed the highest burn frequency, while the Flint Hills and the Sierra Nevada and Klamath Mountains showed the shortest TSLB. Compared to private, public land had greater burned area (19 of 31 ecoregions) and shorter cFRI (25 of 31 ecoregions).

Conclusions: Contemporary fire history metrics can help characterise recent fire regimes across CONUS.

Implications: In regions with frequent fire, comparison of contemporary with target fire regimes or invasive species datasets enables the efficient incorporation of burned area data into decision-making.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Contemporary (1984–2020) fire history metrics for the conterminous United States and ecoregional differences by land ownership
Series title International Journal of Wildland Fire
DOI 10.1071/WF22044
Edition Online First
Year Published 2022
Language English
Publisher CSIRO Publishing
Contributing office(s) Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center
Country United States
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