1.4 Identifying the Impact of 2016–17 Southern Great Plains Wildfires and Their Antecedent Conditions on Ecological Health and Recovery

Monday, 7 January 2019: 11:15 AM
North 224A (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Shelby Robertson, Grazinglands Research Laboratory, USDA, El Reno, OK; and D. P. Brown, J. Steiner, S. Teet, J. Wang, J. Wetter, X. Wu, and X. Xiao

In recent years, large wildfire complexes have devastated parts of the Southern Great Plains. In particular, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas have experienced multiple wildfire impacts since 2016, resulting in extensive agricultural and economic loss. A comparative case study of the Anderson Creek (2016), Starbuck (2017), and Perryton (2017) wildfire complexes has been performed to analyze 1) meteorological and climatological conditions preceding the fires; 2) land use conditions of fire-affected and surrounding areas; and 3) the ecological recovery of grasslands and rangelands post-fire. When compared with climatological conditions, meteorological conditions such as maximum temperature, minimum relative humidity, maximum wind speed, and the energy release component (ERC) reached extreme values on the days each fire began. The effects of the fires on vegetation health, however, were not long lasting. An analysis of gross primary product (GPPvpm) and land surface water indices (LSWI) showed that burnt grasslands and rangelands typically recovered within three months. Findings from this study will inform future wildfire risks as influenced by climate variability, land use management, and environmental decision-making within the Southern Great Plains region.
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