6 Utilizing NASA Earth Observations and NOAA Climate Data Records to Produce Distributable Climate Indications of Wildland Fire Potential in the Great Plains Region

Tuesday, 27 June 2017
Mt. Pisgah/Mt. Pilot (Crowne Plaza Tennis and Golf Resort)
Kimberly Berry, NASA, Hampton, VA; and A. M. B. Courtright, K. Dooley, and B. House III

Grasslands in the Missouri River Basin cover the majority of the landscape and are essential for livestock grazing and agriculture. However, they are susceptible to wildland fires, with each year averaging approximately 6.6 million acres (2000-2010 average - National Interagency Fire Center) burned in this region. Fires in these open grasslands spread rapidly throughout the Great Plains and quickly become complex fires, making them difficult for local wildland fire management groups to contain. With sparse data sources for highlighting fire potential, regional fire managers in the Missouri River Basin are unable to quickly discern spatial differences in the potential of wildland fires. The region is in dire need of a robust, communicable, and easily distributed indicator of local wildland fire potential. By analyzing historical wildfires, wind speeds, drought conditions, cured fuels potential, and precipitation, this project provided end-users with near-real time fire potential information. This project compared fuel moisture content derived from NASA MODIS sensor aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites, fire weather parameters (e.g., wind speeds, temperature, and relative humidity) from the University of Idaho’s gridMET surface meteorological data, and precipitation estimates from the Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information using Artificial Neural Networks Climate Data Records (PERSIANN-CDR) to train and construct a wildland fire potential matrix of the MRB with 15 years of data (2002-2017). The NASA DEVELOP team then used Google Earth Engine and an adapted user interface, to create and distribute an interactive fire potential mapping tool based on the critical fire conditions matrix provided by fire managers in the region. This interface allows wildland fire managers and the general public to quickly discern the potential for complex wildland fires throughout the Great Plains Region. This presentation will discuss the unique interaction between the NASA DEVELOP team at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information and fire managers in the Missouri River Basin to develop an end product to determine fire potential in the region. It will also highlight the variety of input datasets used to construct the threat matrix and explore how a small change in one variable influenced the fire potential based on validation results from historical fires. The Google Earth Engine mapping tools was distributed to fire managers and other decision makers throughout the Great Plains region to quickly inform wildland fire mitigation and response resource decisions.
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