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RMRS Other Publications: A spatial database of wildfires in the United States, 1992-2011


Short, K. C. 2013. A spatial database of wildfires in the United States, 1992-2011. Earth System Science Data Discussions. 6: 297-366.

doi: 10.5194/essdd-6-297-2013

The statistical analysis of wildfire activity is a critical component of national wildfire planning, operations, and research in the United States (US). However, there are multiple federal, state, and local entities with wildfire protection and reporting responsibilities in the US, 5 and no single, unified system of wildfire record-keeping exists. To conduct even the most rudimentary interagency analyses of wildfire numbers and area burned from the authoritative systems of record, one must harvest records from dozens of disparate databases with inconsistent information content. The onus is then on the user to check for and purge redundant records of the same fire (i.e. multijurisdictional incidents with 10 responses reported by several agencies or departments) after pooling data from different sources. Here we describe our efforts to acquire, standardize, error-check, compile, scrub, and evaluate the completeness of US federal, state, and local wildfire records from 1992-2011 for the national, interagency Fire Program Analysis (FPA) application. The resulting FPA Fire-occurrence Database (FPA FOD) includes nearly 1.6 million 15 records from the 20 yr period, with values for at least the following core data elements: location at least as precise as a Public Land Survey System section (2.6 km2 grid), discovery date, and final fire size. The FPA FOD is publicly available from the Research Data Archive of the US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (doi:10.2737/RDS- 2013-0009). While necessarily incomplete in some aspects, the database is intended 20 to facilitate fairly high-resolution geospatial analysis of US wildfire activity over the past two decades, based on available information from the authoritative systems of record.

Keywords: wildfire, statistical analysis, spatial database


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Title: RMRS Other Publications: A spatial database of wildfires in the United States, 1992-2011
Electronic Publish Date: September 26, 2013
Last Update:
September 26, 2013

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