Spatio-temporal distribution of burned areas by ecoregions in Mexico and Central America

2017-11-23T10:52:38Z (GMT) by Blanca Ríos Graciela B. Raga
<p>Fire activity in Mexico and Central America, and its associated emissions, has impacts across multiple scales. On the local-to-regional scale, fire activity impacts land use, productivity, and biodiversity. On the regional-to-global scale, fire activity impacts hydrological, biogeochemical, and atmospheric processes. A consistent, reliable, large-scale characterization of the spatial and temporal distribution of fire burned area is required to assess its environmental impacts and to support natural resources’ management. The spatial and temporal distributions of fire burned areas in ecoregions of Mexico and Central America are evaluated in this study for the period 2001–2014, using the satellite Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) MCD45 Burned Area data set. The methodology combines the 500 m burned area product with a MODIS land cover product and a map of North American land cover to calculate the spatiotemporal variability of fire activity as a function of land-use type.</p> <p>The total burned area over Mexico and Central America over the period 2001–2014 was found to be 614,243.5 km<sup>2</sup>, but with significant interannual variability over the 14 years included in the study. Indeed, the minimum burned area over the period was 9892.25 km<sup>2</sup> in 2014 and the maximum was 37,669.50 km<sup>2</sup> in 2011, a fourfold increase. Burned areas were found to be concentrated in northern Mexico and on the Pacific coast, mainly from October to June. Agricultural burned areas accounted for 37% and 43% of total detected burns in Mexico and Central America, respectively. The largest extent of burned surface occurs in May for most land-cover types. The maximum density of burned areas occurred in the <i>tropical dry forests</i> ecoregion during the dry season. Both in Mexico and Central America, burned area anomalies have significant anti-correlation with precipitation anomalies.</p>