Soil Moisture and Watershed Assessment to Predict Wildfire Occurrences in the Southeast of United States

Author(s): Arias-Araujo, E.; Diaz-Ramirez, J.; Cooke, W.

Wildfires occurrences are frequent in the Southeast of United States (US) and it has become a major concern in this region. The purpose of this study is to determine the effect that soil moisture (SW) level and basin water- balance values (BWB) have over summer-wildfires occurrences in the Southeast of US which encompasses Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina. Quantifying, analyzing and processing the spatial and temporal distribution of SW and BWB could be an effective method for modeling, managing and preventing potential wildfire occurrences. Most of the studies related with this topic have been done to assess the causes and ecological conditions that aid the beginning of wildfires; however, there has not been found studies that integrate SW and BWB to evaluate and predict the wildfires occurrences. Hydrological models such Soil Water Assessment Tools (SWAT) and Hydrological Simulation Program--Fortran (HSPF) are being used as tools to evaluate, compare and simulate watershed water-flow and SW outputs at specific locations where the density of wildfires occurrences are elevated, medium and low; the purpose of this analysis is to contrast temporally and spatially the three scenarios. To evaluate the complete Southeast of US a simpler soil water-balance model is being utilized because of the large extension of study area. SWAT and/or HSPF require data intensive inputs and extensive parameterization thus these models have limited capabilities to process the complete Southeast region. ArcGIS and MATLAB software have being used to compile, prepare and analyze data. Wildfire data, Digital Elevation Models (DEMs), NASA -Land Information System (LIS) gridded binary (GRIB) data, National Land Cover Data (nlcd), STASTGO soil units (USDA-NRCS), USGS-stream-gauges and NOAA Doppler data (precipitation) is being used in the assessment. The final product will be Graphical user interface (GUI) that permits the modeling and prediction the wildfires occurrences in the southeast of US. This GUI will be distributed and shared with governmental agencies and private organizations associated with Forest and Land management. This project is being funded by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
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Technical Sessions

1 Best Management Practices #1
2 Delta Water Assessment
3 Flood Assessment & Mgmt.
4 Wetlands
5 Watershed Mgmt. #1
6 Non-Point Source Assessment
7 Modeling
8 Water Quality
9 Best Mgt. Practices #2
10 Delta Water Conservation
11 Sedimentation
12 Storm Water
13 Watershed Mgt. #2
14 Public Water Systems
15 Surface Water Assessment & Evaluation

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