Analysis of Spatiotemporal Variations in Human- and Lightning-caused Wildfires from the Western United States (1992-2011)
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The annual cycles of human- and lightning-caused fires create distinct patterns in time and space. Evaluating these patterns reveals intimate relationships between climate, culture, and ecoregions. I used unique graphical visualization techniques to examine a dataset of 516,691 records of human- and lightning-caused fire-start data from the western United States for the 20-year period 1992-2011. Human-caused fires were ignited throughout the year and near human populations, while lightning-caused fires were confined almost exclusively to the summer and were concentrated in less-populated areas. I utilize graphs and maps to demonstrate the benefit of a longer time frame in strengthening the findings and describing the underlying interactions among climate, society, and biogeography.