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Multitemporal lidar captures heterogeneity in fuel loads and consumption on the Kaibab Plateau


Ryan McCarley
Alexander Spannuth
Nuria Sanchez‑Lopez
Amber J. Soja



Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Rocky Mountain Research Station


Fire Ecology. 18:18.


Characterization of physical fuel distributions across heterogeneous landscapes is needed to understand fire behavior, account for smoke emissions, and manage for ecosystem resilience. Remote sensing measurements at various scales inform fuel maps for improved fire and smoke models. Airborne lidar that directly senses variation in vegetation height and density has proven to be especially useful for landscape-scale fuel load and consumption mapping. Here we predicted field-observed fuel loads from airborne lidar and Landsat-derived fire history metrics with random forest (RF) modeling. RF models were then applied across multiple lidar acquisitions (years 2012, 2019, 2020) to create fuel maps across our study area on the Kaibab Plateau in northern Arizona, USA. We estimated consumption across the 2019 Castle and Ikes Fires by subtracting 2020 fuel load maps from 2019 fuel load maps and examined the relationship between mapped surface fuels and years since fire, as recorded in the Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity (MTBS) database.


Bright, Benjamin C.; Hudak, Andrew T.; McCarley, Ryan; Spannuth, Alexander; Sanchez‑Lopez, Nuria; Ottmar, Roger D.; Soja, Amber J. 2022. Multitemporal lidar captures heterogeneity in fuel loads and consumption on the Kaibab Plateau. Fire Ecology. 18:18.

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