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Introduction to fire danger rating and remote sensing - Will remote sensing enhance wildland fire danger prediction?

January 1, 2003

While ‘Fire Danger’ per se cannot be measured, the physical properties of the biotic and abiotic world that relate to fire occurrence and fire behavior can. Today, increasingly sophisticated Remote Sensing methods are being developed to more accurately detect fuel properties such as species composition (fuel types), vegetation structure or plant water content - to name a few. Based on meteorological input data and physical, semi-physical or empirical model calculations, Wildland Fire Danger Rating Systems provide ‘indirect values’ - numerical indices - at different temporal scales (e.g., daily, weekly, monthly) denoting the physical conditions that may lead to fire ignition and support fire propagation. The results can be expressed as fire danger levels, ranging from ‘low’ to ‘very high’, and are commonly used in operational wildland fire management (e.g., the Canadian Fire Weather Index [FWI] System, the Russian Nesterov Index, or the U.S. National Fire Danger Rating System [NFDRS]). Today, fire danger levels are often turned into broad scale maps with the help of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) showing the areas with the different fire danger levels, and are distributed via the World Wide Web.

In this chapter we will outline some key issues dealing with Remote Sensing and GIS techniques that are covered in the following chapters, and elaborate how the Fire Danger Rating concepts could be integrated into a framework that enables comprehensive and sustainable wildland fire risk assessment. To do so, we will first raise some general thoughts about wildland fires and suggest how to approach this extremely complex phenomenon. Second, we will outline a possible fire risk analysis framework and third we will give a short overview on existing Fire Danger Rating Systems and the principles behind them.

Publication Year 2003
Title Introduction to fire danger rating and remote sensing - Will remote sensing enhance wildland fire danger prediction?
DOI 10.1142/9789812791177_0001
Authors Britta Allgöwer, J.D. Carlson, Jan W. Van Wagtendonk
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Series Title Series in Remote Sensing
Series Number 4
Index ID 87332
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Ecological Research Center