King, Alexandra

Project title: Forecasting Wildfire Severity: A Spatial Statistical Analysis

Department: Geography

Faculty supervisor: Dr. Chris Bone

"The ability to accurately forecast a wildfire season, considering the number, sizes, and severity of incidents, is an indispensable step towards effective fire management and allocation of fire-fighting resources. The Canadian Fire Danger Rating system is a long-standing tool encompassing climatological and topographical input features to estimate wildfire severity; however, with the changing climate and rising intensity of fire seasons in both BC and nationally, there exists a new demand for updated analysis on both its accuracy, and thus efficiency.

My research project aims to meet that demand by examining historical wildfire severity ratings in British Columbia, and their relationship to the locations and sizes of where wildfire events actually occurred. Additionally, I will consider the placement of fire-fighting resources as to whether they are more consistent with the projected risk areas, actual event areas, or both. This will be accomplished through a range of data processing, geospatial programming, and spatial statistical analysis, utilizing skills acquired in Geomatics courses. The results from this project will contribute a quantitative examination of the ‘risk rating to actual event’ spatial patterns of wildfires, and provide a provincial framework for improved forecasting and resource allocation. Furthermore, through an anticipated partnership with a member of the Canadian Forest Service, this research will also directly provide valuable information on a national scale of wildfire management."