Document type: DU ETD
Collection: Geology Theses  
Title Factors Affecting the Distribution of Lightning-Started Forest Fires in Pike National Forest, Colorado
Author(s) Torikai, Lori A.
School/Department Department of Geography
Institution University of Denver
Degree Type Master's
Degree Name M.A.
Type of Resource text
Degree Date 1994 November
Digital Origin reformatted digital
Rights Statement All Rights Reserved
Reason for Restrictions No restrictions
Type of Restriction No restrictions
Keyword(s) Geography
Genre Dissertations, Academic
Abstract Lighting is a rare and random occurrence. It follows that lightning started forest fires, a result of lightning, should also be randomly distributed. This is not the case in Pike National Forest, Colorado. The distribution of lightning-started forest fires is clustered in the eastern portion of the forest during the summer months between 1986-1992. Based on 213 lightning caused fire, the factors of elevation, topography, geology, precipitation, temperature, vegetation, and the local meteorology are studied to determine the extent of their relationship with the distribution of lightning-started forest fires. Elevation and topography are presented with the lightning forest fires in the form of map overlays; The average elevation of the fires is approximately 2,400 meters with over 88 percent of the fires below 2,743 meters. The topography of the forest best describes the distribution of fires; the fires predominantly follow the drainage basin of the forest. Lightning-started forest fires are related to geologic type. The fires are superimposed on the bedrock geology and a chi-squared test proves that the distribution is not random. The observed fire frequencies are not what would be expected if the distribution were random between geologic types. Monthly mean precipitation and monthly mean temperature are correlated with the number of fires for each month during the study period. Monthly mean temperature is not related to the number of fires while monthly mean precipitation is inversely related to the number of fires for climate stations in and around the forest. Lighting fires are also related to the vegetation zone. Most fires are within the montane zone and a chi-squared test proves that the distribution is not random within the forest vegetation zones. The local circulation, namely the Denver Convergence Vorticity Zone (DCVZ), is quantified by measuring vorticity between various points. The vorticity points are mapped and classified to describe the nature of the DCVZ circulation at the time of the lightning fire occurrence. With the exception of mean monthly precipitation, lightning-started. forest fires are related to all the aforementioned factors. However, many of the factors studied are inter-related and this is never addressed within the confines of this research.
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