1057 Understanding Changes in Modeled Land Surface Characteristics Prior to Lightning-Initiated Holdover Fire Breakout

Wednesday, 10 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Christopher J. Schultz, NASA MSFC, Huntsville, AL; and C. Hain, J. L. Case, K. D. White, and I. Cruz

Lightning initiated wildfires account for 56% of the land consumed from 1992 to 2012, but were only found to be the ignition source 16% of the time. Recent analysis of lightning initiated fires between 2012 and 2015 shows that 54% of these wildfire events are reported within 1 day of the lightning strike occurrence. However, the remaining 46% of lightning initiated wildfires can smolder for several days and in some cases up to a week or more. Herein, this study combines the NASA Short term Prediction and Research Transition Center’s Land Information System (SPoRT-LIS) with National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) information and the US Forest Service’s (USFS) wildfire report database to understand changes in land surface characteristics like soil moisture, vegetation stress and surface temperature between the date of the lightning strike and the wildfire report date. Once characterized, the combination of land surface model information, precipitation data, and lightning data can help fire management teams, the USFS, the National Weather Service and local emergency management to be able to monitor areas for potential holdover fires so decisions can be made prior to the wildfire increasing in size with changing environmental and land surface characteristics.
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