Modeling Alaska Fire Growth Potential

Here in interior Alaska a lot of us have been thinking about the potential for fire growth lately: as in how big could these fires actually get in 2015?  The graph below (thanks to Rick Thoman from the Alaska Climate Center-UAF for tracking this data) shows how the cumulative acres burned compares with the Season-of-Never-Ending-Smoke 2004.  As you can see, we’re well on our way to a new record year, barring a significant turn of weather patterns.  It just so happens a very interesting presentation on modeling fire growth was presented to the May 2015 American Meterological Society Conference and that paper is now available and posted on the Alaska Fire Science Consortium website: MODELING FIRE GROWTH POTENTIAL BY EMPHASIZING SIGNIFICANT GROWTH EVENTS:CHARACTERIZING A CLIMATOLOGY OF FIRE GROWTH DAYS IN ALASKA’S BOREAL FOREST by Robert Ziel, Jane Wolken, Tom St. Clair, and Marsha Henderson.

The authors show that MODIS hotspot data can be used as fire growth data to evaluate multi-day fire growth models such as FS-Pro since 97% of MODIS hotspot data correlated with final fire perimeters.  Predicting fire growth potential based on thresholds for weather and fuel moisture conditions required a climatological analysis of the conditions occurring throughout the interior Boreal ecoregion, and an analysis was conducted on the conditional frequency of the fire events (represented by MODIS detects) that occur under the range of weather and fuel moisture conditions found in the climatology.


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