High-severity fire: Key drivers and mapping its probability across western US forests

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Here, we explore the drivers of high-severity fire for forested ecoregions in the western US over the period 2002–2015. We found that live fuel, on average, was the most important factor driving high-severity fire among ecoregions (average relative influence = 53.1%) and was the most important factor in 14 of 19 ecoregions. Fire weather was the second most important factor among ecoregions (average relative influence = 22.9%) and was the most important factor in five ecoregions. Climate (13.7%) and topography (10.3%) were less influential. We also predicted the probability of high-severity fire, were a fire to occur, using recent (2016) satellite imagery to characterize live fuel for a subset of ecoregions in which the model skill was deemed acceptable (n = 13). These 'wall-to-wall' gridded ecoregional maps provide relevant and up-to-date information for scientists and managers who are tasked with managing fuel and wildland fire.