Date of Award

1-1-2009

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Geography and Environmental Resources

First Advisor

Schoof, Justin

Abstract

Predicting wildfire activity has been a major concern for fire weather forecasters and fire managers in recent decades. Identifying mid-tropospheric circulation patterns that are conducive to higher rates of spread has been widely employed as a predictive tool. This study classifies circulation patterns at the 500 mb level for 3865 fire days from 1970 through 2004 in the central hardwood region of the Midwestern United States. Several circulation patterns were identified that are associated with enhanced fire activity relative to other patterns. All patterns with elevated fire activity were associated with either flow from dry air source regions, or patterns that placed the region on the periphery of a high pressure system. Weather variables associated with each type of circulation pattern were also analyzed and were found to vary among patterns. Circulation patterns with greater fire activity were identified as being drier than patterns with lesser activity. The findings of this study provide crucial information to fire managers and forecasters, which can help them achieve their ultimate goal of minimizing loss of life and property.

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