Authors: Matthew Reilly; Steve Norman; Joseph, J. O’Brien; Louise LoudermilkThe 2016 wildfires in the southern Appalachian Mountains represent the largest fire event this region has experienced in the last 100 years, burning approximately 90,000 ha during an extreme drought. While wildfire played an important role in the historical landscape dynamics of this region, fire exclusion effectively eliminated large fires during the 20th century, and most contemporary fires have been either relatively small (10,000 ha) of low- and moderate-severity, but patterns differed among fires. Spatial patterns of high-severity fire were predominantly related to topography, and occurred mostly in small patches (100 ha) of high-severity fire occurred in one of the fires during a high wind event. This large wildfire event across the region will leave a lasting mark on landscapes into the 21st century demonstrating the potential for large weather driven fire activity in this region.
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