Title: Mapping Lightning/Human-Caused Wildfires Occurrence Under Ignition Point Location Uncertainty
Citation: ECOLOGICAL MODELLING vol. 200 p. 321-333
Publication Year: 2007
JRC Publication N°: JRC34271
URI: http://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC34271
Type: Articles in Journals
Abstract: Fire managers need to study fire history in terms of occurrence in order to understand and model the spatial distribution of the causes of ignition. Fire atlases are useful open-sources of information, recording each single fire event by means of its geographical position. In such cases the fire event is considered as point-based, rather than area-based data, completely losing its surface nature. Thus, an accurate method is needed to estimate continuous density surfaces from ignition points where location is affected by a certain degree of uncertainty. Recently, the fire scientific community has focused its attention on the kernel density interpolation technique in order to convert point-based data into continuous surface or surface-data. The kernel density technique needs a priori setting of smoothing parameters, such as the bandwidth size. Up to now, the bandwidth size was often based on subjective choices still needing expert knowledge, eventually supported by empirical decisions, thus leading to serious uncertainties. Nonetheless, a geo-statistical model able to describe the point concentration and consequently the clustering degree is required. This paper tries to solve such issues by implementing the kernel density adaptive mode. Lightning/human-caused fires occurrence was investigated in the region of Aragón's autonomy over 19 years (1983-2001) using 3428 and 4195 ignition points respectively for the two causes of fire origin. An analytical calibration procedure was implemented to select the most reliable density surfaces to reduce under/over density estimation, overcoming the current drawbacks to define it by visual inspection or personal interpretation. Besides, ignition point location uncertainty was investigated to check the sensitivity of the proposed model. The different concentration degree and the dissimilar spatial pattern of the two datasets, allow testing the proposed calibration methodology under several conditions. After having discovered the slight sensitivity of the model to the exact point position, the obtained density surfaces for the two causes were combined to discover hotspot areas and spatial patterns of the two causes. Evident differences in spatial location of the origin causes were noted and described. The general trend follows the geographical features and the human activity of the study areas. The proposed technique should be promising to support decision-making in wildfire prevention actions, because of the occurrence map can be used as a response variable in fire risk predicting models.
JRC Institute:Institute for Environment and Sustainability

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