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Impact of climate on fire threat

PI: Tatiana Loboda
Institution: University of Maryland
This project is aimed at developing quantitative methodologies for assessment, monitoring, and predicting the impact of wildland fire on a highly endangered species – the Amur tiger. The only known tiger habitat is under pressure from growing demand for natural resources which is further amplified by the rising threat of large and catastrophic fire occurrence. The remotely sensed data driven Fire Threat Model (FTM) developed within this project provides a basis for spatially explicit quantitative assessment of likelihood of wildland fire occurrence, its impact and recovery potential for a given resource. This model is intended for use by resource managers to assist them in assessing current levels of fire threat to a given resource, projecting the changes in fire threat under the changing climate and land use and evaluating the efficiency of various management approaches aimed at minimizing the fire impact. During its first phase the project focused on evaluating the risk of ignition using MODIS active fire product. Unlike fire behavior fire ignition is often connected with economic and cultural aspects of human presence as well as climatic conditions. The risk of ignition in the Russian Far East is highly variable in spatial and temporal domains and is strongly linked to anthropogenic activity (transportation routes, settlements and land use). However, there is also an indication that during the largest fire seasons natural sources of ignition also contribute to increased fire occurrence. In the next phases analyses leading to proper parameterization for the FTM will be undertaken to evaluate potential fire behavior, fire impact on the tiger, and the area’s rehabilitation potential through remotely sensed data. A set of potential scenarios of changes in fire threat associated with climate and land use change will provide a basis for long-term planning of the Amur tiger habitat protection.

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