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County-level Analysis of the Impact of Temperature and Population Increases on California Wildfire Data


The extent to which the apparent increase in wildfire incidence and burn area in California from 1990 to 2006 is affected by population and temperature increases is examined. Using generalized linear models with random effects, we focus on the estimated impacts of increases in mean daily temperatures and populations in different counties on wildfire in those counties, after essentially controlling for the overall differences between counties in their overall mean temperatures and populations. We find that temperature increase appears to have a significant positive impact on both total burn area and number of observed wildfires. Population growth appears to have a much less pronounced impact on total burn area than do annual temperature increases, and population growth appears to be negatively correlated with the total number of observed wildfires. These effects are especially pronounced in the winter season and in Southern California counties.

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