1984-2010 trends in fire burn severity and area for the conterminous US
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Joshua J. Picotte; Birgit Peterson; Gretchen Meier; Stephen M. Howard
Publication Year: 2016

Cataloging Information

  • area burned
  • burn severity
  • chaparral
  • coniferous forests
  • deserts
  • dNBR - differenced Normalized Burn Ratio
  • environmental site potential
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • fire size
  • forest management
  • hardwood forest
  • Landsat
  • montane forests
  • MTBS - Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity
  • RdNBR - relative differenced Normalized Burn Ratio
  • sigmoid distribution
  • statistical analysis
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 22038
Tall Timbers Record Number: 32793
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Journals - I
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Burn severity products created by the Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity (MTBS) project were used to analyse historical trends in burn severity. Using a severity metric calculated by modelling the cumulative distribution of differenced Normalized Burn Ratio (dNBR) and Relativized dNBR (RdNBR) data, we examined burn area and burn severity of 4893 historical fires (1984-2010) distributed across the conterminous US (CONUS) and mapped by MTBS. Yearly mean burn severity values (weighted by area), maximum burn severity metric values, mean area of burn, maximum burn area and total burn area were evaluated within 27 US National Vegetation Classification macrogroups. Time series assessments of burned area and severity were performed using Mann-Kendall tests. Burned area and severity varied by vegetation classification, but most vegetation groups showed no detectable change during the 1984-2010 period. Of the 27 analysed vegetation groups, trend analysis revealed burned area increased in eight, and burn severity has increased in seven. This study suggests that burned area and severity, as measured by the severity metric based on dNBR or RdNBR, have not changed substantially for most vegetation groups evaluated within CONUS.

Online Link(s):
Picotte, Joshua J.; Peterson, Birgit; Meier, Gretchen; Howard, Stephen M. 2016. 1984-2010 trends in fire burn severity and area for the conterminous US. International Journal of Wildland Fire 25(4):413-420.