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Project ID: 10-1-04-21

Year: 2010

Date Started: 04/01/2010

Ending Date:  03/31/2014

Title: Detecting and Mapping Fuels and Fire Hazard in the Mojave Desert

Project Proposal Abstract: An increase in the area burned in the Mojave Desert over the last 25 years has been attributed to increases in dominance of non-native annual grasses. While it appears this is often the case, there have also been extensive areas that have burned in largely native-dominated fuels. Moreover, the potential effects of non-native grass fuels on fire spread and burn severity can vary significantly among vegetation zones. Lower elevations dominated by saltbush and creosotebush, and middle elevations dominated by blackbrush, appear to be more affected by non-native grasses compared to higher elevations dominated by big sagebrush, pinyon pine, and juniper. We are proposing to conduct a large-scale project where we will use a combination of remote sensing and ground-based data to: (1) determine the thresholds of fine fuels loads comprised of non-native annual grasses where fire spread and burn severity potential begin to rapidly increase; (2) develop a ground-based fuels detection system to be used as an alternative to, or in coordination with, the satellite-based system; and, (3) produce fire hazard maps for all public lands within the Mojave Desert. The project will heavily leverage information and products from another project we are currently conducting on the same issue in the Mojave. However, the geographic scope of that project is limited to Department of Defense lands, whereas this project would enable us to model potential fire hazard across the entire Mojave region. We have hypothesized that non-native annual grasses will have the greatest influence on fire extent and severity in lower and middle elevation plant communities. If this hypothesis is correct, then phenologic signature models for non-native annual-grass dominated communities should be strong predictors of fire extent and severity in lower and middle elevation communities, but weak predictors in higher elevation communities. The project will have five main integrated elements: (1) development of a remote sensing database that will allow us to develop spectral thresholds representing significant thresholds of vegetation response to fire (fire extent and burn severity); (2) development of improved post-fire succession models along gradients of fire severity, climate, topography, and latitude; (3) development of environmental niche models for the four non-native grass species. regarded to have the greatest influence on alteration of fire regimes in the Mojave; (4) remote sensing data (NDVI) for the development of phenology profiles of non-native annual grasses, and field data relating NDVI profiles to relative biomass/cover of non-native annual grass; and, (5) the integration of data from the first four elements (post-fire succession patterns, potential invasive species habitat, phenology profiles, and burn severity) to develop fire regime models using an information theoretic model building approach. Our final product will include a web-based map server decision support tool, which will allow users to access the fire hazard maps via the internet. This interface will allow rapid browsing and assessment of conditions and will provide users the ability to download the probabilistic maps for further assessment.

Principal Investigator: Robert C. Klinger

Agency/Organization: USGS-Geological Survey

Branch or Dept: BRD-Biological Resources Division

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

Janelle L. Downs

DOE-Department of Energy

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Co-Principal Investigator

Randy A. McKinley

USGS-Geological Survey

EROS Data Center

Co-Principal Investigator

Jerry D. Tagestad

DOE-Department of Energy

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Federal Cooperator

Robert C. Klinger

USGS-Geological Survey

BRD-Biological Resources Division

Federal Fiscal Representative

Cindy C. Lu

USGS-Geological Survey

WERC-Western Ecological Research Center HQ

Project Locations








Pacific Coast States


Project Deliverables

There is no final report available for this project.
There are no deliverables available for this project.

Supporting Documents

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