Monday, 17 November 2003
Spatio-Temporal Influences on Fire Behavior and Landscape Pattern on the Methow Ranger District, Washington State
This study examined how fire seasonality influences fire behavior and landscape pattern on the Methow Ranger District in Washington State. Management ignited prescribed fires burning under spring and fall weather conditions were compared to summer wildfires ignited under extreme summer fire weather conditions to investigate potential changes in fire behavior and resultant landscape patterns. Understanding the possible linkages between the time of year at which fires burn, fire behavior, and landscape pattern has become an increasingly important task as land managers strive to reintroduce fire to fire adapted ecosystems. In this study, a multi-method approach, including analysis of district fire records, computer modeling, and spatial pattern analysis, was used to assess the influence of fire seasonality on fire behavior and landscape pattern. Fire behavior was simulated on the United States Forest Service Methow Ranger District using FlamMap and FARSITE software. Fragstats software was then used to compare the spatial patterns predicted by FARSITE for fires burning in different seasons. Results demonstrated the potential for significant differences in fire behavior during the spring, summer, and fall seasons. Additionally, spatial pattern analysis indicated significant seasonal differences in several landscape metrics including fire size, fire perimeter, and mean patch size of areas experiencing canopy removal. The results of this research suggested that fire behavior modeling can provide fire managers with a tool for planning fire use programs and predicting seasonal variation in fire behavior at a landscape level.