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Development of foundational fire and vegetation datasets

July, 2016

Map of FSim-generated burn probabilities for the conterminous US (Short et al. 2016)
Map of FSim-generated burn probabilities for the conterminous US (Short et al. 2016)
The RMRS Wildfire Risk Management Team has been instrumental in the development and maintenance of national fire and vegetation datasets that are foundational to U.S. wildfire risk science. The assessment of contemporary wildfire hazard--a fundamental part of the risk assessment framework--is not possible without a reliable source of historical fire-occurrence data. To that end, the team maintains a national fire-occurrence database that currently spans 1992-2015 and includes nearly two million georeferenced wildfire records. National wildfire hazard (burn probability and conditional intensity) has been characterized by the team using a geospatial Fire Simulation (FSim) system, which includes modules for weather generation, wildfire occurrence, fire growth, and fire suppression. In addition to wildfire hazard, a complete risk assessment includes exposure and effects analyses, and spatial vegetation datasets, including those indicating the number, size, and species of trees in U.S. forests, are critical for assessing wildfire impacts to forest resources. Team members have used a modified random forests approach with Landscape Fire and Resource Management Planning Tools (LANDFIRE) vegetation and biophysical predictors to impute plot data collected by the U.S. Forest Service's Forest Inventory Analysis (FIA) to the landscape at 30-m grid resolution. The main output of this project is a map of imputed plot identifiers at 30 × 30 m spatial resolution for the western United States that can be linked to the FIA databases to produce tree-level maps or to map other plot attributes.

Each of these datasets is publicly available from the Forest Service Research Data Archive:


Finney, Mark A. ; McHugh, Charles W. ; Grenfell, Isaac C. ; Riley, Karin ; Short, Karen C. , 2011