Fourth Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology

Tuesday, 13 November 2001
Spatial mapping of KBDI for the southeast United States
Michael B. Johnson, Southeast Regional Climate Center, Columbia, SC; and G. Forthun
A common tool used to estimate forest fire potential is the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI). This paper explains a method of developing a regional KBDI with improved spatial resolution and a more accurate depiction of fire potential for non-urban land coverage. Although KBDI is relatively simple to calculate from climatic conditions at a single location, generalizing and mapping KBDI on a regional scale is more complicated. Currently the Southeast Regional Climate Center produces a map of KBDI for the Southeast United States. This is done by collecting KBDI values from various sources and interpolating them onto a regional grid. A limiting factor for this type of mapping is the spatial resolution of input parameters. Since rainfall can be highly localized, KBDI can vary greatly over short distances. Land cover type is also an important factor to consider when developing a drought index. KBDI is more meaningful over forested, grassland, or agricultural land cover than over urban land cover. A solution is to calculate KBDI values from stations that have a close proximity to the desired land types. Obtaining data for more near-real-time stations in desired land cover areas will increase the effectiveness of the KBDI.

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