Wildfire seasons have been consistently becoming more and more harsh over the past few years. New research on “double-hazard zones,” or areas that have highly sensitive plants in combination with a fast increase in atmospheric dryness, gives us important information for understanding wildfires so we can work to prevent and suppress them more effectively. In these areas, the plant and soil traits add another layer of risk for wildfire.
The new study from Stanford University takes into account plant and soil hydraulic traits that impact the moisture level of vegetation. This includes considering how much water the soil can hold and how easily moisture moves through soil. Areas heavy with plants that do not hold much moisture and soil that moisture moves through–and away from–are much more susceptible to wildfire because they become dry, tinder-like fuel very easily.
Having a more in-depth understanding of how double-hazard zones work, particularly in highly fire-prone areas like California, will allow communities to better prepare for and manage wildland fires through rethinking procedures around land use, vegetation thinning, disaster planning, insurance, and more.
Another factor that the study touches on is disproportionate growth. People are the biggest cause of wildfires. More and more people are living in the United States, and once-remote areas that have prime conditions for wildfire are becoming more populated. That means that these once-untouched areas now have a far greater risk of wildfire simply because they are populated. This means that we need to work harder than ever to reduce the number of human-caused fires by following wildfire safety guidelines and using preventative measures to reduce the amount of fuel in these areas.
SPIEDR is committed to keeping communities safe from wildfires. We provide wildland fire equipment rentals, training, and consulting services.