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Title - Cooperators
Description of Application
LANDFIRE The National LANDFIRE Program uses MTBS data as part of its operations & maintenance strategy. In the LANDFIRE updating process, MTBS data provide a comprehensive source of fire disturbance data that are integrated into the LANDFIRE existing vegetation layers, succession class, and fire behavior model layers relative to the level of severity for a given area to changes in baseline landscape conditions, or landscape conditions since the last LANDFIRE data update.
See the LANDFIRE project website for additional details.
Grand Canyon
National Park
MTBS project data is used to support business needs and research efforts of the park’s Fire and Aviation program. These needs include: 1) assessment of alternatives for the park’s Fire Management Plan and fire effects on threatened and endangered species; 2) prescribed fire planning analysis and tactical wildfire management decision support; and 3) ongoing research in post-fire vegetation succession and regeneration relative to burn severity levels.
For more details on the park's applications using MTBS data see Using MTBS data to assist with land management decisions and Using fire progressions and burn severity data to understand and manage contemporary mixed-severity fire regimes.
For more information on the park’s fire management program see Grand Canyon National Park Fire Management.
Tall Timbers
Research Station
Tall Timbers Research Station, located in Tallahassee, Florida is a regarded center of expertise for fire ecology. The MTBS project is leveraging the station’s experience in fire effects assessment, burn severity mapping, and field validation to ensure high quality MTBS products for the southeast region.
See the Tall Timbers Research Station website for additional details.
USDA Forest Service
Fire Sciences Lab
University of Idaho
MTBS data are a critical component of the Fire Severity Mapping System (FSMS) project. In the context of this project, conducted by the Fire Sciences Lab and University of Idaho Department of Forest Resources, MTBS data are used in conjunction with climatic and terrain variables to model the probability of severe fire throughout the western United States. The anticipated results of this project will provide fire managers with a consistent and validated source of potential risk from new fire ignitions and it is planned to incorporate this product in WFDSS.
See Developing a Map of the Landscape Potential for Severe Fire in the Western United States or go to the FIRESEV project website for more details.
Joint Fire Science Program
South Dakota
State University
The Fuel Treatment Effectiveness in the United States (FTEUS) project utilizes Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity (MTBS) data to help determine effects of fuels treatments on burn severity and fire spread. A statistical analysis incorporating MTBS burn severity images (dNBR and RdNBR), LANDFIRE canopy and topography data, and fuel treatments is performed to determine treatment effects on burn severity. Fire Area Simulator (FARSITE) models are built and integrated with observed weather from the region to simulate fire spread for the landscapes with fire-affected fuel treatments. The models are calibrated to approximate the actual MTBS fire perimeter. Fire spread is then simulated again for the same landscape but with fuel treatments “taken out” to assess the resulting differences in fire spread.
For more information on the project, please visit FTEUS project website.

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Fuels Management

  • MTBS data provide a consistent and reliable data source that can be used to update fuel layers. For example, canopy fuel layers for use in fire behavior models such as FARSITE can be modified based upon fire effects by burn severity class. Additionally, surface fuel model assignments may be revised based upon pre-fire fuel model and post-fire burn severity class.
  • MTBS data can also be leveraged to calibrate fire behavior model parameters. For instance, weather and rate of spread parameters may be adjusted to replicate crown and surface fire patterns that occurred in historical fires as portrayed by burn severity data. Those parameters may be used in fire behavior model runs to predict whether planned fuels treatments will be effective.Forest fire image
  • MTBS burn severity data can be used to analyze the effectiveness of pre-fire fuels treatments. For instance, the analysis of several wildfires has demonstrated that changes in fire behavior and effects occur when the fire reaches different types of treatments (e.g. thinning alone, thinning and burning). Areas containing these treatments and previous burns reduced fire severity, and in several cases, reduced fire severity also occurred outside burn units on the leeward side of the fire because the heading fire spread was diverted.

Tactical fire suppression planning

  • MTBS burn severity data provides a critical source of data for building and validating crown fire and lethal surface fire risk models.
  • MTBS data for past fires can be leveraged to identify and target fire fighter safety zones in support of suppression activities on current wildfires.

Post-fire assessments

  • Post-fire severity data compiled in the immediate aftermath of targeted fires, such as the Burned Area Reflectance Classification, provided by RSAC to agency BAER teams, are used for emergency response and hazard mitigation. MTBS complements these efforts by 1) providing comprehensive mapping coverage of all large fires regardless of administrative ownership, and 2) applying specific fire severity assessment strategies to capture “ecological” burn severity which provides opportunity to assess primary and secondary fire effects not evident in the immediate aftermath of a fire.

    Burned area image

Fire policy implementation and effectiveness

  • MTBS mapping efforts can be used to inform policy decisions driven by the National Fire Plan and Healthy Forests Restoration Act as well as provide a broad scale means to assess and monitor trends in fire affected landscapes

Ecosystem / Landscape level monitoring

  • The temporal and spatial extent of MTBS burn severity data can be used to generate probability distribution curves that, when used as predictive models, indicate the likelihood of severity that will occur within a fire.Burned trees profile These probability curves can be used to compare conceptual historic fire regimes by vegetation type to current fire regimes, evaluate effectiveness of management strategies such as wildland fire use (WFU) and monitor trends over time.
  • MTBS data can also be leveraged to analyze the distribution of fire severity by vegetation type(s) over a multi-decadal time period to ascertain if these changes relate to changes in fuels, climate, etc.

EIS and NEPA planning

  • Similar to ecosystem and landscape monitoring, MTBS burn severity data from multiple fires across landscapes and over extended periods of time can be used as predictive models indicate the likelihood of severity that will occur within a fire. For example, the distribution of fire severity by class (low, moderate, and high) in past prescribed fires can be leveraged to predict fire effects in future prescribed fires for NEPA planning.
  • MTBS data can be used to identify the specific implications to the usage of suppression tactics and placement of fuels treatments. For example, are high severity fires repeatedly occurring in certain forest cover types and conditions (old stands vs. young stands)?

Wildlife habitat monitoring

  • MTBS data can be applied to analyze how the spatial complexity of fire affects the habitat utilization by threatened and endangered species.
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