Using Soil Moisture Information to Better Understand and Predict Wildfire Danger: A Review of Recent Developments and Outstanding Questions

Most fire danger rating systems in use around the world rely on a relatively standard set of input variables that are routinely measured at weather stations, chief among them being air temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, and wind speed. However, a growing body of research provides strong evidence that soil moisture is a key predictor of wildfire danger that has been largely overlooked. Soil moisture supplies water to live vegetation, influencing growth and canopy water content; while low soil moisture increases surface air temperature via increased sensible heating and reduces near-surface humidity, which decreases the moisture content of dead fuels. Thus, soil moisture is fundamentally connected to both fuel loads and fuel moisture via mechanisms that are not fully accounted for in current fire danger rating systems. This presentation aims to 1) highlight examples from the rapidly growing body of research on soil moisture—wildfire relationships and 2) make a case for more widespread use of soil moisture information in operational fire danger rating systems.

Presenter: Dr. Tyson Ochsner – Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at Oklahoma State University

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Soil Moisture – Wildfire Danger: Symposium




Apr 27 2022


Mountain Time
10:00 am - 11:00 am


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