A Vulnerability Assessment Of Extreme Drought And Unprecedented Wildfire In The Southern Appalachian Mountains

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Lauren Margaret Andersen (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site: https://library.appstate.edu/
Elizabeth Shay

Abstract: In 2016, an extreme drought occurred in the southeastern United States. Dry conditions resulted in unprecedented wildfires throughout the southern Appalachian Mountains, specifically in western North Carolina. Western North Carolina is an important source of water for nearby metropolitan locations. In the future, climate change is expected to increase temperatures, alter precipitation, and stress water resources in the region, which could lead to more frequent drought and wildfire. The recent drought and wildfire events offer an opportunity to assess vulnerability and prepare for resilience. The study explores the spatiotemporal characteristics of the recent wildfires by identifying wildfires that contributed to diminished air quality across the state. The study then explores wildfire vulnerability by identifying communities with the greatest socioeconomic vulnerability to wildfires and locations with the greatest physical vulnerability to wildfires. The result is a future wildfire vulnerability index for western North Carolina. The results indicate that quality of life was significantly impacted by the recent drought and wildfire events and the greatest wildfire vulnerability occurs in the southwestern portion of the state with a gradual decrease heading eastward. The individual socioeconomic and physical characteristics of locations must be considered when determining emergency management practices relating to drought and wildfire.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Andersen, L. (2017). "A Vulnerability Assessment Of Extreme Drought And Unprecedented Wildfire In The Southern Appalachian Mountains." Unpublished Honors Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2017
Appalachian Mountains, Drought, Resilience, Wildfire, Vulnerability

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