Canadian Forest Service Publications

Ensemble lightning prediction models for the province of Alberta, Canada. 2016. Blouin, K.D.; Flannigan, M.D.; Wang, X.; Kochtubajda, B. International Journal of Wildland Fire 25: 421-432.

Year: 2016

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 39503

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1071/WF15111

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Plain Language Summary

Lightning is a major cause of wildland fires in Canada. During an average year in the province of Alberta, 330 000 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes occur. These strikes are responsible for igniting 45% of reported wildfires (,450 fires) and 71% of area burned (,105 000 ha). Lightning-caused wildland fires in remote areas have large suppression costs and a greater chance of escaping initial attack when compared with human-caused fires, which are often located close to infrastructure and suppression resources. In this study, geographic and temporal covariates were paired with meteorological reanalysis and radiosonde observations to generate a series of 6-h and 24-h lightning prediction models valid from April to October. These models, based on cloud-to-ground lightning from the Canadian Lightning Detection Network, were developed and validated for the province of Alberta, Canada. The ensemble forecasts produced from these models were most accurate in the Rocky Mountain and Foothills Natural Regions, achieving hits rates of 85%. The Showalter index, latitude, elevation, longitude, Julian day and convective available potential energy were found to be highly important predictors. Random forest classification is introduced as a viable modelling method to generate lightning forecasts.