A geographically flexible approach for mapping the Wildland-Urban Interface integrating fire activity data

Idit Tikotzki*, Avi Bar-Massada, Noam Levin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) is the area where houses and natural vegetation meet or intermingle. WUI areas are exposed to an increased hazard of wildfires and have significantly expanded worldwide in the past few decades. In this study, we developed a new empirical approach for mapping the WUI by generating a WUI index based on the juxtaposition among buildings, vegetation, and the fire history of the study area. We first calculated the percentage coverage of buildings and three different fuel typologies within circular moving windows with radii of 100, 250, and 500 m, and then acquired the fire history data between 2012 and 2021 for Israel and the West Bank (Palestinian Authority) from the VIIRS active fires remote sensing product. We defined the WUI as cells where the combination of vegetation cover and building cover had more VIIRS fire detections than expected by chance. To assess the effects of using broad vs. local scale parameterizations on resulting WUI maps, we repeated this process twice, first using national-scale data, and then separately in four distinct geographic regions. We assessed the congruence in the amounts and patterns of WUI in regions as mapped by information from these two analysis scales. We found that the WUI in Israel and the West Bank ranged from 0.5% to 1.7%, depending on fuel type and moving window radius. The scale of parameterization (national vs. regional) affected the WUI patterns only in one of the regions, whose characteristics differed markedly than the rest of the country. Our new method differs from existing WUI mapping methods as it is empirical and geographically flexible. These two traits allow it to robustly map the WUI in other countries with different settlement, fuel, climate and wildfire characteristics.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number1231490
JournalFrontiers in Environmental Science
Volume11
DOIs
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2023 Tikotzki, Bar-Massada and Levin.

Keywords

  • VIIRS active fire
  • Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI)
  • natural hazards
  • remote sensing
  • risk mapping
  • wildfires

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