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Guidelines for effective evaluation and comparison of wildland fire occurrence prediction models

Author(s): Nathan Phelps, Douglas G. Woolford
Year Published: 2021

Daily, fine-scale spatially explicit wildland fire occurrence prediction (FOP) models can inform fire management decisions. Many different data-driven modelling methods have been used for FOP. Several studies use multiple modelling methods to develop a set of candidate models for the same region, which are then compared against one another to choose a final model. We demonstrate that the methodologies often used for evaluating and comparing FOP models may lead to selecting a model that is ineffective for operational use. With an emphasis on spatially and temporally explicit FOP modelling for daily fire management operations, we outline and discuss several guidelines for evaluating and comparing data-driven FOP models, including choosing a testing dataset, choosing metrics for model evaluation, using temporal and spatial visualisations to assess model performance, recognising the variability in performance metrics, and collaborating with end users to ensure models meet their operational needs. A case study for human-caused FOP in a provincial fire control zone in the Lac La Biche region of Alberta, Canada, using data from 1996 to 2016 demonstrates the importance of following the suggested guidelines. Our findings indicate that many machine learning FOP models in the historical literature are not well suited for fire management operations.

Citation: Phelps, Nathan; Woolford, Douglas G. 2021. Guidelines for effective evaluation and comparison of wildland fire occurrence prediction models. International Journal of Wildland Fire 30(4):225-240. https://doi.org/10.1071/WF20134
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Simulation Modeling
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 23077
FRAMES RCS number: 63506
Record updated: May 10, 2021