Wildland Fire Science

Wildfires over the last couple decades have increased in size and intensity and the fire season has lengthened, resulting in increased wildfire suppression costs and greater risk to human health and safety. The large, severe fires have also had pronounced effects on water quality and quantity, air quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and many other ecosystem services, even the ability of the ecosystem to recover post-fire. Wildland fire also plays an important beneficial role to reduce future wildfire risk and improve habitat for fire adapted species.

The U.S. Geological Survey produces wildland fire science, data, and tools that are essential to decision making before, during, and after wildfires, and are used by fire and land management agencies, states and tribes, landowners, and communities across the U.S. Areas of emphasis for fire science work at USGS include:

  • Effects of wildfire and prescribed fire on plants, wildlife and ecosystems
  • Wildland fire history and management, including post-fire restoration and recovery, especially on lands managed by the Department of the Interior (DOI)
  • Characterize risk of post-fire flooding, sedimentation, debris flow, smoke, and toxic fire ash
  • Remote sensing and geospatial data, tools and products to support decision making by fire and land managers
  • For more information about USGS wildland fire research, contact:

  • Paul Steblein
    (703) 648-6895


Other Fire Science Programs

Fire and Land Management Programs in the Department of the Interior (DOI)

USGS provides science support for fire and land management programs in DOI. Links to some of the fire programs can be found below:


This PDF is a compilation of USGS fire-related publications and products from 2007 to 2016:
Wildland Fire Science Publications

Recent Publications

Evaluation of the U.S. Geological Survey Landsat burned area essential climate variable across the conterminous U.S. using commercial high-resolution imagery
by Melanie Vanderhoof, Nicole M. Brunner, Yen-Ju G. Beal, Todd J. Hawbaker, 2017, Remote Sensing (9) 1-24

Climate, wildfire, and erosion ensemble foretells more sediment in western USA watersheds
Joel B. Sankey, Jason R. Kreitler, Todd Hawbaker, Jason L. McVay, Mary Ellen Miller, Erich R. Mueller, Nicole M. Vaillant, Scott E. Lowe, Temuulen T. Sankey, 2017, Geophysical Research Letters

Long-term trends in restoration and associated land treatments in the southwestern United States
Stella M. Copeland, Seth M. Munson, David S. Pilliod, Justin L. Welty, John B. Bradford, Bradley J. Butterfield, 2017, Restoration Ecology

Prediction of forest canopy and surface fuels from Lidar and satellite time series data in a bark beetle-affected forest
Benjamin C. Bright, Andrew T. Hudak, Arjan J.H. Meddens, Todd J. Hawbaker, Jenny S. Briggs, Robert E. Kennedy, 2017, Forests (9) 1-22

Evidence of compounded disturbance effects on vegetation recovery following high-severity wildfire and spruce beetle outbreak
Amanda R. Carlson, Jason S. Sibold, Timothy J. Assal, José F. Negrón, 2017, PLoS ONE (12)


Top Photo: Dodge fire. Photo courtesy of Bureau of Land Management.