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How vulnerable are american states to wildfires? A livelihood vulnerability assessment


Quantifying livelihood vulnerability to wildland fires in the United States is challenging because of the need to systematically integrate multidimensional variables into its analysis. We aim to measure wildfire threats amongst humans and their physical and social environment by devel-oping a framework to calculate the livelihood vulnerability index (LVI) for the top 14 American states most recently exposed to wildfires. The LVI is computed by assessing each state’s contributing factors (exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity) to wildfire events. These contributing factors are determined through a set of indicator variables that are categorized into corresponding groups to produce an LVI framework. The framework is validated by performing a principal component analysis (PCA), ensuring that each selected indicator variable corresponds to the correct contributing factor. Our results indicate that Arizona and New Mexico experience the greatest livelihood vulnerability. In contrast, California, Florida, and Texas experience the least livelihood vulnerabil-ity. While California has one of the highest exposures and sensitivity to wildfires, results indicate that it has a relatively high adaptive capacity, in comparison to the other states, suggesting it has measures in place to withstand these vulnerabilities. These results are critical to wildfire managers, government, policymakers, and research scientists for identifying and providing better resiliency and adaptation measures to support states that are most vulnerable to wildfires.

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