Live fuel moisture (LFM) is a field-measured indicator of vegetation water content and a crucial observation of vegetation flammability. This study presents a new multi-variant regression model to estimate LFM in the Mediterranean ecosystem of Southern California, USA, using the Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) L-band radiometer soil moisture (SMAP SM) from April 2015 to December 2018 over 12 chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum
) LFM sites. The two-month lag between SMAP SM and LFM was utilized either as steps to synchronize the SMAP SM to the LFM series or as the leading time window to calculate the accumulative SMAP SM. Cumulative growing degree days (CGDDs) were also employed to address the impact from heat. Models were constructed separately for the green-up and brown-down periods. An inverse exponential weight function was applied in the calculation of accumulative SMAP SM to address the different contribution to the LFM between the earlier and present SMAP SM. The model using the weighted accumulative SMAP SM and CGDDs yielded the best results and outperformed the reference model using the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Visible Atmospherically Resistance Index. Our study provides a new way to empirically estimate the LFM in chaparral areas and extends the application of SMAP SM in the study of wildfire risk.
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