Menu Close

Mapping the impacts of climate, fuel, and land use on Sierra Nevada wildfire patterns

Wildfire activity is on the rise in California’s Sierra Nevada, and this increase has coincided with a warming climate and increases in human activities. However, the relative impact of climactic, environmental, and human variables on wildfire patterns across the highly diverse Sierra landscape is less clear. Quantifying these impacts can be key in the development of region-specific forest management strategies and limiting future increases in wildfire.

In their newly published study, a research team led by CECS researcher Bin Chen (UC Davis) developed a fire probability model to track the many variables affecting fires in California from 1984 to 2017. Their findings show that vapor pressure deficit—the difference between the air’s water content and its saturation point—was the leading predictor of fire probability. Population density and fuel amount also significantly contributed to spatial patterns of fire.

Learn more about this study in the recent EOS Research Spotlight “Uncovering Patterns in California’s Blazing Fires.”

Other CECS researchers who contributed to this work are Yufang Jin (UC Davis), Michael Goulden (UC Irvine), and James Randerson (UC Irvine).