Wednesday, December 13, 2017

36 Years of American Wildfire

The most common cause of wildfires in the United States is lightning. However a large number of wildfires are started by humans, both deliberately and accidentally. You can now explore the causes of wildfires in the USA on a new interactive map.

Jill Hubley has mapped every single American wildfire since 1980. Her interactive map, U.S. Wildfire Causes 1980-2016, visualizes historical wildfire data and even shows which fires were caused by humans and which had natural causes.

The U.S. Wildfire Causes map uses Federal Wildland Fire Occurrence Data from 1980 until 2016. It shows fires started by humans (like accidents or arson) in orange and natural causes in green. No base map is shown under the data when the user is zoomed out on the map. A base map is hardly needed as the wildfire data on its own creates an easily recognizable map of the United States. However a base map is added to the map when you zoom-in, so it is possible to explore the wildfire data by location.

If you click on the 'Specific Cause' button you can view the wildfires colored by the specific natural or human cause. You can also view all the causes of wildfires ranked by the number of acres burned. For most years lightning is the most common cause of wildfire, although in 1980 and 1985 pyromania was the top cause. In most years pyromania and cooking fires appear among the most common causes of wildfires.

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