International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Relationships between fire danger and the daily number and daily growth of active incidents burning in the northern Rocky Mountains, USA

Patrick H. Freeborn A C , Mark A. Cochrane B and W. Matt Jolly A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A USDA Forest Service, Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory, 5775 Highway 10 W., Missoula, MT 59808, USA.

B Geographic Information Science, Center of Excellence, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD 57007, USA.

C Corresponding author. Email: patrickhfreeborn@fs.fed.us

International Journal of Wildland Fire 24(7) 900-910 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF14152
Submitted: 30 August 2014  Accepted: 24 April 2015   Published: 22 June 2016

Abstract

Daily National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) indices are typically associated with the number and final size of newly discovered fires, or averaged over time and associated with the likelihood and total burned area of large fires. Herein we used a decade (2003–12) of NFDRS indices and US Forest Service (USFS) fire reports to examine daily relationships between fire danger and the number and growth rate of wildfires burning within a single predictive service area (PSA) in the Northern Rockies, USA. Results demonstrate that daily associations can be used to: (1) extend the utility of the NFDRS beyond the discovery date of new fires; (2) examine and justify the temporal window within which daily fire danger indices are averaged and related to total burned area; (3) quantify the probability of managing an active incident as a function of fire danger; and (4) quantify the magnitude and variability of daily fire growth as a function of fire danger. The methods herein can be extended to other areas with a daily history of weather and fire records, and can be used to better inform fire management decisions or to compare regional responses of daily fire activity to changes in fire danger.

Additional keywords: daily associations, energy release component (ERC), prolonged fire activity.


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