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Climate 2019, 7(4), 52; https://doi.org/10.3390/cli7040052

Establishing Relationships between Drought Indices and Wildfire Danger Outputs: A Test Case for the California-Nevada Drought Early Warning System

1
Division of Atmospheric Sciences, Desert Research Institute, 2215 Raggio Parkway, Reno, NV 89512, USA
2
Western Regional Climate Center, 2215 Raggio Parkway, Reno, NV 89512, USA
3
Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, 216 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309, USA
4
Physical Sciences Division, NOAA/Earth System Research Laboratory/Physical Sciences Division, 325 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80305-3328, USA
5
Division of Hydrologic Sciences, Desert Research Institute, 2215 Raggio Parkway, Reno, NV 89512, USA
6
School of Natural Resources, National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 3310 Holdrege Street, Lincoln, NE 68583-0961, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 February 2019 / Revised: 29 March 2019 / Accepted: 1 April 2019 / Published: 5 April 2019
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Abstract

Relationships between drought indices and fire danger outputs are examined to (1) incorporate fire risk information into the National Integrated Drought Information System California–Nevada Drought Early Warning System and (2) provide a baseline analysis for application of drought indices into a fire risk management framework. We analyzed four drought indices that incorporate precipitation and evaporative demand (E0) and three fire indices that reflect fuel moisture and potential fire intensity. Seasonally averaged fire danger outputs were most strongly correlated to multi-scalar drought indices that use E0 (the Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI) and the Standardized Precipitation Evapotranspiration Index (SPEI)) at approximately annual time scales that reflect buildup of antecedent drought conditions. Results indicate that EDDI and SPEI can inform seasonal fire potential outlooks at the beginning of summer. An E0 decomposition case study of conditions prior to the Tubbs Fire in Northern California indicate high E0 (97th percentile) driven predominantly by low humidity signaled increased fire potential several days before the start of the fire. Initial use of EDDI by fire management groups during summer and fall 2018 highlights several value-added applications, including seasonal fire potential outlooks, funding fire severity level requests, and assessing set-up conditions prior to large, explosive fire cases. View Full-Text
Keywords: drought; wildfire; drought index; fuel moisture; California; Nevada; evaporative demand drought; wildfire; drought index; fuel moisture; California; Nevada; evaporative demand
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McEvoy, D.J.; Hobbins, M.; Brown, T.J.; VanderMolen, K.; Wall, T.; Huntington, J.L.; Svoboda, M. Establishing Relationships between Drought Indices and Wildfire Danger Outputs: A Test Case for the California-Nevada Drought Early Warning System. Climate 2019, 7, 52.

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