Previous burns and fire severity | Assessing water quality on Susquehanna



Undergraduate students who participated in fall 2017 UROC projects answer audience questions at the end of the final fall 2017 semester Coffee Hour.


This is the last DoG enews for fall semester 2017. DoG enews will return January 9, 2018. Send your good news, updates, publications, and photos from field work and travel to
• Online Geospatial alumnus Loren Pfau (’13g) and Justine Blanford have published, “Use of geospatial data and technology for wilderness search and rescue by non-profit organizations in The Professional Geographer.
Carolynne Hultquist successfully passed her doctoral comprehensive exams.
• A multi-disciplinary research team, led by Alexander Klippel received one of ten seed grants to pilot programs that support Penn State’s 2016–2020 Strategic Plan for his proposal, “Digital Innovation through Immersive Technologies: Establishing New Paradigms for Environmental Decision Support.”
Zach Goldberg received a research grant from the Africana Research Center for his project, “Organic Certification of Fig Production in Ouezzane Province, Morocco: Assessing Social and Cultural Impact.”
• The PAC Herbarium is looking for two interns during spring 2018. Interns will assist the Curator with imaging and databasing plant specimens as part of the Mid-Atlantic Megalopolis Project (MAM). Interested students should contact Sarah Chamberlain, Curator, at What is the PAC Herbarium


Controlled burns limited severity of Rim Fire
Controlled burning of forestland helped limit the severity of one of California’s largest wildfires, according to Penn State geographers.

The researchers studying the Rim Fire, which in 2013 burned nearly 400 square miles of forest in the Sierra Nevadas, found the blaze was less severe in areas recently treated with controlled burns. See the research paper below.

Citizen scientists to help researchers gauge Susquehanna water quality
Using a network of up to 60 citizen scientists, a team of Penn State researchers will assess the levels of endocrine-disrupting compounds in the Susquehanna River next year, and in turn empower those volunteers to become part of the solution to water-quality problems related to emerging contaminants.


Previous burns and topography limit and reinforce fire severity in a large wildfire
By Harris, L., and A. H. Taylor
In Ecosphere 8(11)
Access DOI: 10.1002/ecs2.2019
In fire-prone forests, self-reinforcing fire behavior may generate a mosaic of vegetation types and structures. In forests long subject to fire exclusion, such feedbacks may result in forest loss when surface and canopy fuel accumulations lead to unusually severe fires. We examined drivers of fire severity in one large (>1000 km2) wildfire in the western United States, the Rim Fire in the Sierra Nevada, California, and how it was influenced by severity of 21 previous fires to examine the influences on (1) the severity of the first fire since 1984 and (2) reburn severity. The random forest machine-learning statistical model was used to predict satellite-derived fire severity classes from geospatial datasets of fire history, topographic setting, weather, and vegetation type. Topography and inferred weather were the most important variables influencing the previous burn. Previous fire severity was the most important factor influencing reburn severity, and areas tended to reburn at the same severity class as the previous burn.

The political and social ecologies of energy, chapter
By Karl S. Zimmerer
In Handbook on the Geographies of Energy. eds. Barry D. Solomon and Kirby E. Calvert

Political-industrial ecologies of energy, chapter
By Jennifer E. Baka
In Handbook on the Geographies of Energy. eds. Barry D. Solomon and Kirby E. Calvert

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