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Research Highlights

Individual Highlight

Climate space for fire occurrence and extent in Puerto Rico

Photo of Fire prone dry forest and grassland ecosystems may expand in area as climate is projected to become warmer and drierFire prone dry forest and grassland ecosystems may expand in area as climate is projected to become warmer and drierSnapshot : The cumulative effect of small frequent fires found in the Caribbean can shape large landscapes. Relationships between weather patterns and the likelihood of these fires can help understand the implications of climate change

Principal Investigators(s) :
Van Beusekom, AshleyQuinones, Maya
Gould, William A.Gonzalez, Grizelle
Research Location : Puerto Rico
Research Station : International Institute of Tropical Forestry (IITF)
Year : 2018
Highlight ID : 1486

Summary

Climate change has the potential to greatly expand dry, fire-prone forests and grasslands to more moist and wet environments, and to extend and create more temporal variability in fire seasons. We built a machine learning random forest classifier to analyze the relationship between climatic, socio-economic, and fire history data with fire occurrence and extent for the years 2003–2011 in Puerto Rico, nearly 35,000 fires. Using classifiers based on climate measurements alone, we found that the climate space is a reliable associate, if not a predictor, of fire occurrence and extent in this environment. We found a strong relationship between occurrence and a change from average weather conditions, and between extent and severity of weather conditions. The probability that the random forest classifiers will rank a positive example higher than a negative example is 0.8–0.89 in the classifiers for deciding if a fire occurs, and 0.64–0.69 in the classifiers for deciding if the fire is greater than 5 ha. Future climate projections of extreme seasons indicate increased potential for fire occurrence with larger extents

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • A. Carolina Monmany
  • Stephen J. Fain
  •  Azad Henareh Khalyani
  •  Maria José Andrade-Núñez