Geography of wildfire in the United States

Please address the following questions which refer to the graph below of wildfire occurrence on some of the federal lands (National Forests, National Grasslands, and National Parks) across the US.

If you would like to see a map of these federal lands, follow these links:

National Forests and Grasslands Map <link is hidden> />
National Parks Map <link is hidden> />
The x-axis indicates mean annual precipitation in mm. For reference, the mean annual precipitation here in Brazos County is around 1000 mm (39 in.). The y-axis shows the mean density of wildfires on those public lands, specifically, the number of fires per 400,000 hectares per year. (400,000 ha is approximately 1 million acres and is commonly used to express fire density). This is a broad-brush view of the relationship between fire and precipitation, because it assigns a single amount of precipitation to an entire area, even though precipitation varies widely within some of these areas (esp. in mountainous terrain). The precipitation value for each area is from a nearby weather station.

1. Briefly describe the overall (general) relationship between fire and precipitation.

<link is hidden> an explanation for why this relationship exists.

3. Even though a general pattern appears to exist, there is nonetheless quite a bit of scatter, which means a single general explanation cannot account for all the variation in fire occurrence among these different places. A good example is to compare Ocalla National Forest, Florida (labeled) with Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont. Why do you think these two areas might have such different levels of fire activity despite nearly identical precipitation (1220-1260 mm/yr)?

4. Provide one or more factors that could possibly explain why the San Bernardino National Forest (in the mountains east of Los Angeles) has so much fire compared to other areas with similar precipitation levels.

5. Besides precipitation, what is another variable that you think might help account for the variations in fire occurrence across the country? (This could be any type of variable, not necessarily another climate variable). Hypothesize the shape of this relationship: how would the points be distributed with respect to this variable?

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