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Fire History and Fire Threat Index

Fire is a major driver of environmental change in Kaʻūpūlehu, and predicted to increase in intensity and frequency with increasing temperatures and decreasing rainfall (Keener et al, 2012).

The left map displays past fires in the Kekaha region.  The points indicate ignition points from the late 1990’s until present.  The red, orange, and yellow polygons indicate areas burned by fires, going back to the mid-1970s.  The red areas have been burned three times, the orange areas twice, and the yellow areas once, according to this dataset.  This data set was produced by the Hawai’i Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO) in cooperation with fire response agencies, and provided to us by Dr. Clay Trauernicht, Hawaiʻi Extension Fire Specialist.

The right map displays a fire risk index produced by the West Wide Fire Risk Assessment commissioned by the Association of State Foresters.  The three drviers of the patterns on the map are fire ignition density, prevailing weather, and fuel models based on vegetation classes.  This fire risk index likely underpredicts fire behavior in Hawaiʻi grasslands because the model is based upon US continental fire models, and Hawaiʻi’s grasslands appear to carry larger, higher intensity fires.

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