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Wildland Fire Potential

Wildland Fire Potential (WFP) for the conterminous United States

The wildland fire potential (WFP) map is a raster geospatial product produced by the USDA Forest Service, Fire Modeling Institute that is intended to be used in analyses of wildfire risk or hazardous fuels prioritization at large landscapes (100s of square miles) up through regional or national scales. The WFP map builds upon, and integrates, estimates of burn probability (BP) and conditional probabilities of fire intensity levels (FILs) generated for the national interagency Fire Program Analysis system (FPA) using a simulation modeling system called the Large Fire Simulator (FSim; Finney et al. 2011). The specific objective of the 2012 WFP map is to depict the relative potential for wildfire that would be difficult for suppression resources to contain, based on past fire occurrence, 2008 fuels data from LANDFIRE, and 2012 estimates of wildfire likelihood and intensity from FSim. Areas with higher WFP values, therefore, represent fuels with a higher probability of experiencing high-intensity fire with torching, crowning, and other forms of extreme fire behavior under conducive weather conditions.

Using the FPA FSim products as inputs, as well as spatial data for vegetation and fuels characteristics from LANDFIRE and point locations of fire occurrence from FPA (ca. 1992 – 2010), we used a logical series of geospatial processing steps to produce an index of WFP for all of the conterminous United States at 270m resolution. The final WFP map is presented here in two forms: 1) continuous integer values, and 2) classified into five WFP classes of very low, low, moderate, high, and very high. We don’t intend for the WFP map to take the place of any of the FSim products; rather, we hope that it provides a useful addition to the information available to managers, policy makers, and scientists interested in wildland fire risk analysis in the United States. On its own, WFP does not provide an explicit map of wildfire threat or risk, because no information on the effects of wildfire on specific values such as habitats, structures or infrastructure is incorporated in its development. However, the WFP map could be used to create value-specific risk maps when paired with spatial data depicting highly valued resources (Thompson et al. 2011a, Thompson et al. 2011b). It is important to note that the WFP is also not a forecast or wildfire outlook for any particular season, as it does not include any information on current or forecasted weather or fuel moisture conditions. It is instead intended for long-term strategic planning and fuels management.

Modified: Oct 27, 2014

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