Trends in forest fire occurrence in the southern Yucatán Peninsular Region using 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. The outcomes of agricultural burning are strongly dependent on a suite of factors including precipitation, relative humidity, and landscape composition (e.g. the presence of bracken fern, Pteridium aquilinum). Presently, a government subsidized program called ‘Sembrando Vida’ (implemented in 2019) is leading to a resurgence in small-scale milpa agriculture which exacerbates wildfire frequency due to increased burning for cropland preparation. However, the question remains as to what extent wildfire 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 and CHIRPS monthly precipitation data to analyze trends in the frequency, intensity, and locations of fires in the SYPR between 2010-2020, with a focus on the impacts of the recently implemented ‘Sembrando Vida’ program (2019).

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