How do fire danger ratings compare with fire occurrence?

Funded as part of an ERC Starter Grant members of the wildFIRE Lab are examining whether fire danger ratings correspond to fire occurrences. Our focus thus far has been looking at the North American Fire Danging Rating System, that has a long history of operational use.

Wildfires are of growing concern in the USA that has seen increasing occurrence of large wildfires, driven by longer periods of fire-conducive weather and vegetation conditions. There has been a meteoric rise in suppression expenditure in recent years to contain fire events. This presents additional challenges in the face of future climate change, and projected expansions of the Wildland Urban Interface, meaning that more people and property will find themselves at risk to wildfires.

Mean Fire Danger Ratings for the US over the past 10 years

This project explores how fire danger indices from the National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) portray different aspects of fire activity, whether it be the occurrence of fire or the final size of fires. The aim being to consider whether this national system is well positioned to capture different fire regimes around the country in terms of their vegetation, climate, and fire relationships.

By exploring these relationships at the national scale we hope to understand where the NFDRS is shown to portray fire activity accurately, and locate other regions where there may need to be a focus for future developments of the NFDRS.

Our aim is to produce research that is both beneficial to fire scientists
and fire managers, as well as of broad interest to financial services such as
Catastrophe Modelling and the (re)insurance sector.


Key contact Nick Walding: nw274[at]