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Soil Moisture Seminar Series: Soil Moisture and Wildfire - Improving Fire Danger Rating Systems

Nov 16
November 16, 2022
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Cross-section of soil with grass growing on top.

The National Coordinated Soil Moisture Monitoring Network is hosting a quarterly online seminar series to regularly share innovative soil moisture research activities. This seminar, held on November 16, 2022, focused on opportunities for applying soil moisture information to inform fire danger rating systems.

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Few existing fire danger rating systems incorporate soil moisture information, even though such information is increasingly available and has been shown to help improve predictions of fuel loads, fuel moisture, wildfire probability, and wildfire size. This seminar summarized the growing body of evidence indicating the benefits of including soil moisture information in fire danger rating systems, addressed some of the unique challenges to using soil moisture information in those systems, and provided suggestions for addressing these challenges. The seminar included the following presentations:

  • Overview of soil moisture and wildfire research, with a focus on opportunities to apply soil moisture information to improve fire danger rating systems and fire management – Tyson Ochsner, Oklahoma State University
  • Presentation on Topofire, a high-resolution (250-meter) modeling system being used to develop a revised version of the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI; used by the U.S. Forest Service to determine forest fire potential in the coterminous U.S.) that accounts for snow melt, soil moisture, and evapotranspiration – Zach Holden, U.S. Forest Service Region 1