Published works

Published works

Using alternative soil moisture estimates in the McArthur Forest Fire Danger Index

TitleUsing alternative soil moisture estimates in the McArthur Forest Fire Danger Index
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsHolgate, CM, van Dijk, A, Cary, GJ, Yebra, M
JournalInternational Journal of Wildland Fire
Date Published08/2017

McArthur’s Forest Fire Danger Index (FFDI) incorporates the Keetch–Byram Drought Index (KBDI) estimate of soil dryness. Improved approaches for estimating soil moisture now exist, with potential for informing the calculation of FFDI. We evaluated the effect, compared with KBDI, of two alternative methods of estimating soil moisture: the rainfall-based Antecedent Precipitation Index and soil moisture from the Soil Moisture Ocean Salinity satellite mission. These methods were used to calculate FFDI over a sample period of 5 years (2010–14) at seven locations around Australia. The effect of substituting the alternatives for KBDI, and of entirely replacing the Drought Factor (DF) (a measure of fuel availability in FFDI) with the alternatives was explored by studying the effect on magnitude, distribution and timing of FFDI and associated Fire Danger Rating (FDR). Both approaches predicted drier soil conditions than KBDI, resulting in fewer Low–Moderate FDR days and more days of High FDR and above. The alternative methods replacing KBDI had little effect on seasonal patterns of FDR. Of all approaches, replacing DF entirely with the soil moisture alternatives most closely mimicked McArthur’s FFDI. Overall, if alternative measures of soil moisture are adopted for FFDI, the entire replacement of the DF term should be considered.

Refereed DesignationRefereed

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