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1984–2010 trends in fire burn severity and area for the conterminous US

Author(s): Joshua J. Picotte, Birgit Peterson, Gretchen Meier, Stephen M. Howard
Year Published: 2016

Burn severity products created by the Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity (MTBS) project were used to analyse historical trends in burn severity. Using a severity metric calculated by modelling the cumulative distribution of differenced Normalized Burn Ratio (dNBR) and Relativized dNBR (RdNBR) data, we examined burn area and burn severity of 4893 historical fires (1984–2010) distributed across the conterminous US (CONUS) and mapped by MTBS. Yearly mean burn severity values (weighted by area), maximum burn severity metric values, mean area of burn, maximum burn area and total burn area were evaluated within 27 US National Vegetation Classification macrogroups. Time series assessments of burned area and severity were performed using Mann–Kendall tests. Burned area and severity varied by vegetation classification, but most vegetation groups showed no detectable change during the 1984–2010 period. Of the 27 analysed vegetation groups, trend analysis revealed burned area increased in eight, and burn severity has increased in seven. This study suggests that burned area and severity, as measured by the severity metric based on dNBR or RdNBR, have not changed substantially for most vegetation groups evaluated within CONUS.

Citation: Picotte Joshua J.; Peterson, Birgit; Meier, Gretchen; Howard, Stephen M. 2016. 1984–2010 trends in fire burn severity and area for the conterminous US. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 25: 413–420.
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Ecological - First Order, Fire Intensity / Burn Severity, Fire Regime
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 14199
Record updated: May 10, 2018