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Limitations and utilisation of monitoring trends in burn severity products for assessing wildfire severity in the USA

Author(s): Crystal A. Kolden, Alistair M. S. Smith, John T. Abatzoglou
Year Published: 2015
Description:

The Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity project is a comprehensive fire atlas for the United States that includes perimeters and severity data for all fires greater than a particular size (,400 ha in the western US, and,200 ha in the eastern US). Although the database was derived for management purposes, the scientific community has expressed interest in its research capacity. As with any derived data, it is critical to understand inherent limitations to maximise the utility of the dataset without compromising the inferences. The classified severity product in particular is of limited use to research due to a lack of both consistency in developing class thresholds and empirical relationships with ecological metrics. Here we review the products available and their development process, and characterise and quantify the limitations of the classified burn severity data product based on the use of highly variable and subjective classification thresholds. We suggest a framework for overcoming these limitations by developing a more robust classified product that will support ecological management and applications. This framework utilises field data to develop consistent, ecologically based thresholds that incorporate existing ecoregion classifications from LANDFIRE or other fire management frameworks already widely integrated into planning efforts.

Citation: Kolden, Crystal A.; Smith, Alistair M. S.; Abatzoglou, John T. 2015. Limitations and utilisation of monitoring trends in burn severity products for assessing wildfire severity in the USA. International Journal of Wildland Fire 24(7):1023-1028.
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Data Evaluation or Data Analysis for Fire Modeling
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 15631
FRAMES RCS number: 21251
TTRS (Tall Timbers Research Station) Number: 31893
Record updated: May 15, 2018