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Spatiotemporal analysis of wildfires in California from 2000 to 2019

Citation

Li, Shu; Banerjee, Tirtha (2021), Spatiotemporal analysis of wildfires in California from 2000 to 2019, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.7280/D18H5V

Abstract

The environmental pollution, property losses and casualties caused by wildfires in California are getting worse by the year. To minimize the interference of wildfires on economic and social development, and formulate targeted mitigation strategies, it is imperative to understand the scale and extent of previous wildfire occurrences. In this study, we first investigated the temporal distributions of past wildfires in California divided by size and causes and analyzed the changes observed in the past two decades against the last century. The trend of wildfires in different time scales (yearly and monthly), as well as the distribution of wildfires across different spatial scales (administrative units, climate divisions in California from 2000 to 2019) were also studied. Furthermore, to extract the significant variables on the risk of wildfire occurrence, multivariate analyses of environmental and human-related variables with wildfire densities were carried out. The results show that the wildfire density distribution of the burned area in California conforms to the characteristics of the Pareto distribution. Over the past two decades, the frequency of small (< 500 acres), human-caused wildfires has increased most rapidly, and they are widely distributed in central and western California. The wildfire season has lengthened and the peak months have been advanced from August to July. In terms of the variables related to the risk of wildfire occurrence, the temperature, vapor pressure deficit, grass cover, and the distance to roads are crucial. This study reveals the relationship between environmental and social background conditions and the spatial-temporal distribution of wildfires, which can provide a reference for wildfire management, the formulation of future targeted wildfire emergency plans, and the planning of future land use in California.