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Wildfire Potential Mapping over the State of Mississippi: Land Surface Modeling Approach

Cooke, W. H., Mostovoy, G. V., Anantharaj, V. G., & Jolly, W. M. (2012). Wildfire Potential Mapping over the State of Mississippi: Land Surface Modeling Approach. GIScience and Remote Sensing. 49(4), 492-509.


A relationship between the likelihood of wildfires and various drought metrics (soil moisture–based fire potential indices) were examined over the southern part of Mississippi. The following three indices were tested and used to simulate spatial and temporal wildfire probability changes: (1) the accumulated difference between daily precipitation and potential evapotranspiration (P – E); (2) simulated moisture content of the top 10 cm of soil; and (3) the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI). These indices were estimated from gridded meterological data and Mosaic-simulated soil moisture data available from the North American Land Data Assimilation System (NLDAS-2). The relationships between normalized fire potential index deviations and the probability of at least one fire occurring during the following five consecutive days were evaluated using a 23-year (1986–2008) forest fire record for an evenly spaced grid (0.25° × 0.25°) across the state of Mississippi’s coastal plain. Two periods were selected and examined (January–mid June and mid September–December). There was good agreement between the observed and logistic model–fitted fire probabilities over the study area during both seasons. The fire potential indices based on the top 10 cm soil moisture and KBDI had the largest impact on wildfire odds, increasing it by almost 2 times in response to each unit change of the corresponding fire potential index during January–mid-June period and by nearly 1.5 times during mid-September–December. These results suggest that soil moisture–based fire potential indices are good indicators of fire occurrence probability across this region.

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