Day 4

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Paper title Toward a UK Fire Danger Rating System (FDRS): Understanding fuels, fire behaviour and impacts
Authors
  1. Ana Maria Pacheco-Pascagaza University of Manchester Speaker
  2. Gareth Clay University of Manchester
  3. Gail Millin-Chalabi The University of Manchester
  4. James Morison
  5. Tadas Nikonovas Swansea University
  6. Andy Elliott University of Exeter,
  7. Stefan Doerr Swansea University
  8. Claire Belcher University of Exeter
  9. Cristina Santin
  10. Nicholas Kettridge University of Birmingham
  11. Mark Hardiman University of Portsmouth
  12. Thomas Smith London School of Economics
Form of presentation Poster
Topics
  • A3. Biosphere
    • A3.06 Biomass monitoring
Abstract text Fire danger is a description of the combination of both constant and variable factors that affect the initiation, spread, and ease of controlling a wildfire. The UK routinely experiences wildfires, typically with spring and mid/late summer peak occurrences, though winter wildfires do occur. In recent years, large-scale wildfire events in the UK have led to heightened concern about their behaviour and impacts (i.e. Saddleworth Moor and Winter Hill wildfires in 2018, Marsden Moor in February 2019). For instance, there were almost 260,000 wildfire incidents attended between 2009/10 and 2016/17 in England alone (avg. 32,000/year), requiring over 300,000 hours Fire and Rescue Services (FRS) attendance. In addition, the UK has an unusually complex fire regime which incorporates traditional management burning (Harper et al 2018), and episodic small to large-scale wildfires. While the largest wildfires (in terms of burned area) are on mountain, heath and bog (Forestry Commission England 2019), the largest number of wildfires occur in built-up areas, in particular in the rural-urban interface (RUI).

To assess, manage, and mitigate wildfire impacts, the likelihood of uncontrollable wildfires (Fire Danger) and the risk that they pose across the UK, must be quantified. Therefore, this project aims to establish and test the scientific underpinning and key components required to build an effective, tailored UK FDRS for use in establishing the likelihood and impact of current and future fire regimes. In order to accomplish this objective, we will: (i) produce UK fuel (i.e. flammable biomass) maps at the national, landscape and site-level, and to develop a site-level understanding of fuel structure; (ii) assess the moisture regimes in key fuel types across UK landscapes; (iii) determine flammability, energy content and ignitability of UK fuels to establish UK fuel models; (iv) determine the ranges of UK fire behaviour for key fuel types; (v) identify wildfire hotspots and with consideration of assets and communities at risk under current and future climate scenarios; and (vi) incorporate stakeholder knowledge and resources as an integral part of research delivery and impact generation.

In this presentation, we firstly provide an overview of the different components of the project, and secondly we explain in detail the techniques employed to map static fuel types over the UK for the year 2018. Fuels correspond to the vegetation classes with similar fire behaviour, represented as the biomass contributing to the spread, intensity and severity of the wildfires (Chuvieco et al 2003, Burgan et al., 1998). Our mapping fuel type is based on machine learning approaches that include different satellite data sources: Sentinel-1 and 2, Landsat-8 and ALOS PalSAR-2 to generate both height and above ground biomass (AGB) maps at national level at 10 m resolution. The national height map is based on all the available LiDAR data in the country provided by Digimap, and AGB national map is produced with the contribution of Forest Research and the National Forest Inventory. Resulting maps will be analysed with the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology Land Cover Map for 2018 to produce the UK national static fuel types map for 2018.