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Summarizing fire trends in the southern Yucatán Peninsular Region using the MODIS (collection 6) active fire product

Authors: Andrew Pagan*, Clark University, John Rogan, Clark University
Topics: Geographic Information Science and Systems, Land Use, Latin America
Keywords: Fire, Agriculture, Yucatán Peninsula, MODIS, CHIRPS
Session Type: Poster
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Fire has historically been used for managing agricultural land-use in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico. While fires are commonly ignited to clear new land for agriculture and maintain existing plots, uncontrolled wildfires often escape into surrounding forests and protected areas. The southern Yucatán Peninsular Region (SYPR) has experienced increasingly frequent fire activity since the 1950s due to a 15% reduction in average rainfall and the burning of forest for cropland conversion. Presently, a government subsidized program called ‘Sembrando Vida’ (implemented in 2019) is leading to a resurgence in small-scale milpa agriculture which exacerbates fire frequency due to increased burning for cropland preparation. However, the question remains as to what extent fire occurrences are affected by the combination of ‘Sembrando Vida’ and reduced rainfall in the SYPR, relative to the years preceding this new policy. This study uses the MODIS (Collection 6) 1 km active fire product to summarize trends in the frequency, timing and location of fires in the SYPR between 2010-2020, with a focus on the impacts of the recently implemented ‘Sembrando Vida’ program (2019). The most commonly burned land covers over the last decade were identified as well as the number of fires detected within protected natural areas. CHIRPS monthly precipitation data were used in a time series analysis to recognize spatial and temporal rainfall trends in the SYPR. Detection rates and spatial accuracy of the MODIS active fire product were also tested independently using Landsat imagery and burn records from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

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