Monday, 17 November 2003
Cross-project synergy in developing decision support tools for wildland fire management
Wildland fire regimes in the southwestern United States are a product of complex interactions among climate, vegetation and fuels conditions, fire history, societal policies, and human behavior. Wildfire Alternatives (WALTER), an interdisciplinary fire science initiative at the University of Arizona, seeks to improve fire management through development of decision support tools for strategic planning. Synergies between two research projects provide a foundation for addressing wildland fire research from multiple perspectives. Sn integrated GIS model, called FCS-1 (Fire-Climate-Society, Version 1), will be introduced to fire managers and community members within the next year. This project is supported by funding from the Environmental Protection Agency’s STAR program. The Fire-Climate Forecast initiative, begun in late 1999, is supported by the NOAA-OGP funded Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) project. FCS-1 is a web-based tool that allows decision makers to construct fire risk maps under a selected set of alternative climate scenarios. The model covers four study areas: the Catalina-Rincon, Huachuca, and Chiricahua Mountains in Arizona, and the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico. The risk maps produced by FCS-1, which are constructed at a scale of one kilometer (the finest scale at which climate information can be reasonably integrated), reflect integration of underlying GIS layers representing climate, fuels, fire history, and human factors information. The Fire-Climate Forecast initiative involves development and operationalization of seasonal to annual-scale fire-climate forecasts and of forecast skill evaluations for use by fire managers. The initiative, being operationalized by the Predictive Services group within the National Interagency Fire Center, generates fire forecasts for United States and for each region administrative region. These forecasts provide basic information useful for selecting scenario conditions to run the FCS-1 model for the four study sites. Interactions across the two projects have produced valuable synergies that benefit both projects.