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Identifying and analyzing spatial and temporal patterns of lightning-ignited wildfires in Western Canada from 1981-2018.

  • Author / Creator
    Aftergood, Olivia SR
  • This study looked at the spatial and temporal patterns of lightning-ignited wildfires in Western Canada from 1981 to 2018. Studying patterns of lightning fires over space and time can provide great insight into understanding, highlighting, and quantifying these sequences. This is of great importance as wildfires have had serious implications on communities, forests, and provide operational issues for fire managers. Moreover, with climate change which is predicted to affect these arrangements could in turn exacerbate these conflicts. To assess distribution patterns over space and time, the nearest neighbors, K-function, Mann-Kendall and the Getis-ord Gi* statistics were employed. All lightning attributed wildfires recorded within Western Canada (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, British Columbia, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories) in the Canadian National Fire Database were used in this analysis, where statistics were performed in R and ArcGIS. Results suggest that lightning-ignited wildfires are spatially clustering on the Western Canadian landscape up to 270 km with an observed overall non-significant decreasing trend seen for NOF (number of fires). Moreover, hotspot areas, where lightning fires are showing a trend increase and or are clustering spatially over the 37-year period, are displayed in GIS. Although determining factors that cause the reoccurrence of spatial and temporal clustering are widely speculated, a result of climate and vegetation could be the main influences of these patterns, however, further research needs to be undertaken. Wildfires are becoming a force to be reckoned with in an earth influenced by anthropogenic climate change. Ecological disasters are on the rise, communities are being afflicted, and costly disaster bills are increasing. Understanding lightning fires and their distributions within space and time is crucial in quantifying their extents on the Canadian landscape and how this interaction is being altered. Further research needs to be undertaken to better understand these mechanisms so fire managers can be better equipped in dealing with wildfires in a changing climate.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2021
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/r3-4sy4-t961
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.