Wildfire Maps: Historical Evolution and Future Development.

Authors: Mark Leipnik*, Sam Houston State University, Marie Mangus, Sam Houston State University
Topics: Cartography, Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Human Rights
Keywords: wildfire, cartographic design, GIS
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2020
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM
Room: Plaza Court 1, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Maps used to convey spatial and temporal information about active wildfires have evolved in the United States over more than a century. These maps include a wide variety of types, but this paper will concentrate on those used during active fires focused on fire perimeter, progression and deployment of firefighters. Historically, such maps were made by and used by specialists (often foresters) in the employment of the United State Forest Service or State forestry agencies. However, more recently wildfire maps are being widely released to the general public and viewed on a variety of devices. These maps started with sketch maps and annotations on topographic maps. They then evolving through maps using GIS and remotely sensed imagery. Now they include visualizations and many varieties with multiple cartographic designs. Thus wildfire maps have gone through a process of evolution and increasing complexity. This presentation looks at important historic wildfire maps, and ones associated with major recent fires especially in California. Most of these maps use a cartographic design with a topographic base with many added GIS derived layers. Adding more layers may not be an optimal design choice since it may result in a product that cannot convey critical information in an easily understood manner to all users particularly those using mobile devices.

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