Spatial Data: Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity
Data Category: Fire History
Data Description: MTBS is the Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity project which maps the burn severity and perimeters of fires across the United States beginning in 1984.
Data Link: http://www.mtbs.gov/
Data Use Policy: http://www.mtbs.gov/cooperators.html
Use with R: MTBS data (in this case, the National MTBS Fire Occurrence Dataset) can be downloaded from the MTBS website as a vector point shapefile. The files come packaged in a zipped .tar.gz format. Using the link to the file on the website, you can download the file to your current directory using the download.file function from the built-in utils package. To “untar” the zipped file and extract the shapefile, use the untar function also from the utils package. The shapefile can then be read using the readOGR function from the rgdal package. In this example, I extracted the Michigan points and plotted them on an outline of Michigan with colors coordinating to the year of the fire.