The Use of GIS to Determine the Relationship Between Fire Frequency and Topography

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Committee Chair

Karen K. Kemp, Ph.D.

Committee Members

Lauren Scott, Ph.D.
Pat Lineback, M.S.
Tony Caprio, M.S.


Wildland fire has and always will be a part of Sierra Nevada forests’ natural life cycle. Fire exclusion policies implemented over the past century have led to the development of unnatural forest structure and composition. Such forests are prone to very large and destructive fires that often threaten both property and human life. Those responsible for our nation’s forests are increasingly restoring fire as a natural part of many forests’ ecology. Land managers need tools that help them assess fire risk and find optimal fuel treatment locations for both mechanical and prescribed fire. This work found statistically significant correlations between fire frequency data and the topographic data sets of incident solar radiation, topographic position, aspect, and Topographic Relative Moisture Index (TRMI). Linear regression techniques were used to explore these relationships and generate predictive models. The most significant model demonstrates a relationship between fire frequency, vegetation type, elevation and aspect. A custom ArcGIS user interface was created to generate Time Since Last Fire (TSLF), Fire Return Interval (FRI), Fire Return Interval Departure (FRID) grids.

Full text is available at the University of Redlands


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