The Landscape Fire and Resource Management Planning Tools (LANDFIRE) program team at the USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science Center released new provisional products for the Great Basin and Southwest regions of the United States that capture the seasonal nature of fuels in this region.
Feedback from end users of LANDFIRE fuels data suggested that static fuel model layers, which represent average fire conditions, have limited utility in areas where seasonal conditions have profound impacts on available fuels. To address this issue, LANDFIRE developed methodologies to modify fuels data based on seasonal conditions, with multiple methods being developed in different areas around the U.S. since different processes impact fuel conditions. The overall effort is termed Modeling Dynamic Fuels with an Index System (MoD-FIS), and products have been released for the Southeast region based on drought levels, and in the Great Basin/Southwest region, which incorporates seasonal variability of herbaceous cover (i.e. cheatgrass) to capture changes to fire behavior fuel models based on the current fire season herbaceous production.
The Great Basin/Southwest MoD-FIS process maps current year herbaceous cover compared to historical averages. Using current and historical Normalized Difference Vegetation Index data from the Landsat archive, 10 years of seasonally modified fuel model data developed for the Great Basin and Southwest regions were analyzed to determine the average and range of vegetation greenness values for each pixel across each region. The process resulted in updated Existing Vegetation Cover, Existing Vegetation Height, and Fire Behavior Fuel Model layers that reflect the current fire season herbaceous cover and resultant fuel availability.
Current plans are to develop products multiple times per year based on regional fire seasons. These products are now being produced operationally and released provisionally to enable further testing and verification of the products by regional users.
Great Basin/Southwest MoD-FIS fire season definitions.