Two Historical Data Sets Tell Different Fire Stories: Research Brief

Historical data sets of wildfire activity are essential for understanding drivers of future change, risk assessment and management strategies.  A comparison of two historical fire history data sets, the State of California Fire and Resource Protection (FRAP) database and a database based on annual state and federal written reports, found substantial differences between the two. Where earlier records and the distribution of small fires are important the “written record” data set is most complete. Where spatially explicit fire perimeters are important FRAP is appropriate. Users are recommended to carefully evaluate the properties of each historical data set and their particular data needs in choosing a data set

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Syphard, A.D., and J.E. Keeley. 2016. Historical reconstructions of California wildfires vary by data source. International Journal of Wildland Fire 25:1221-1227.