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"Spatiotemporal burn severity, emissions, and health impact analyses of California Wildfires"


QingQing Xu

Environmental Systems

University of California, Merced



Fire has been an important ecological factor in California for millennia. Expanding residence in wildland-urban interfaces, fuel accumulations from fire suppression legacies over the last century, and increasing temperatures and more variable precipitation, are making wildfires catastrophic in California, increasing in size and severity in recent decades. The risks are predicted to increase with continued climate change and concerns over the potential impacts are growing. Comprehensive, accurate inventories of severity and emissions are essential for assessing these impacts and setting appropriate fire management and health care preparedness strategies. To improve the availability of accurate fire severity and emissions estimates, we developed the Wildfire Burn Severity and Emissions Inventory (WBSE). WBSE is currently a retrospective spatial burn severity and emissions inventory at 30-m resolution for event-based assessment and 500-m resolution for daily emissions calculation. We applied the WBSE framework to calculate burn severity and emissions for historically observed large wildfires (> 404 hectares)
that burned during 1984-2020 in the state of California, U.S., a substantially more extended period than existing inventories. Based on the data generated with WBSE, we analyzed spatial and temporal patterns of burn severity and emissions. Using PM2.5 data from WBSE, climate, socioeconomic, and respiratory hospitalization data in California during 1984-2019, a generalized additive model was tested to predict the respiratory hospitalization admissions.



Qingqing Xu is a Ph.D. candidate at UC Merced, in the field of Environmental Systems. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a master’s in Management Science and Engineering. She also received an MBA degree from the Technische Universität Bergakademie Freiberg in Germany. Her research focuses on fires in California.

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