Blazing Biomass: Forecasting Fires and Phenology in Texas Grasslands

This is a part of the 2015 Fall VPS. For more VPS articles, click here

Yearly change from 2000-2014 mean NDVI parameters were calculated to help determine fire-sensitive phenoregions within the study area. Image Credit: Texas Disasters II Team

Yearly change from 2000-2014 mean NDVI parameters were calculated to help determine fire-sensitive phenoregions within the study area. Image Credit: Texas Disasters II Team

Category: Assessing Human Risk
Project Team
: Texas Disasters II
Team Location: NASA John C. Stennis Space Center – Hancock County, Mississippi

Authors:
James Michael Brooke (Project Lead)
Meredith Williams
Teresa Fenn

Mentors/Advisors:
Joseph Spruce (NASA John C. Stennis Space Center)
Dr. Kenton Ross (NASA Langley Research Center)

Abstract:
The risk of severe wildfires in Texas has been related to weather phenomena such as climate change and recent urban expansion into wild land areas. During the Moderate Resolution Imaging Specrtoradiometer (MODIS) era, Texas’ wild land areas have experienced sequences of wet and dry years that increased the wildfire risk and frequency. To prevent and contain wildfires, the Texas Forest Service (TFS) is tasked with evaluating and reducing potential fire risk to better manage and distribute resources. This task is made more difficult due to the vast and varied landscape of Texas. The TFS assesses fire risk by understanding vegetative fuel types and fuel loads. To better assist the TFS, NASA Earth observations, including Landsat and MODIS data, were analyzed to produce maps of vegetation type and specific vegetation phenology as it related to potential wildfire fuel loads. Fuel maps from 2010-2011 and 2014-2015 fire seasons, created by the Texas Disasters I project, were used and provided alternating, complementary map indicators of wildfire risk in Texas. The TFS will utilize the end products and capabilities to evaluate and better understand wildfire risk across Texas.

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