Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Computer Science


Computer Science


College of Engineering


Jonathan Ventura

Advisor Department

Computer Science

Advisor College

College of Engineering


Wildfires burn millions of acres of land each year leading to the destruction of homes and wildland ecosystems while costing governments billions in funding. As climate change intensifies drought volatility across the Western United States, wildfires are likely to become increasingly severe. Wildfire risk assessment and hazard maps are currently employed by fire services, but can often be outdated. This paper introduces an image-based dataset using climate and wildfire data from NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). The dataset consists of 32 climate and topographical layers captured across 0.1 deg by 0.1 deg tiled regions in California and Nevada between 2015 and 2020, associated with whether the region later saw a wildfire incident. We trained a convolutional neural network (CNN) with the generated dataset to predict whether a region will see a wildfire incident given the climate data of that region. Convolutional neural networks are able to find spatial patterns in their multi-dimensional inputs, providing an additional layer of inference when compared to logistic regression (LR) or artificial neural network (ANN) models. To further understand feature importance, we performed an ablation study, concluding that vegetation products, fire history, water content, and evapotranspiration products resulted in increases in model performance, while land information products did not. While the novel convolutional neural network model did not show a large improvement over previous models, it retained the highest holistic measures such as area under the curve and average precision, indicating it is still a strong competitor to existing models. This introduction of the convolutional neural network approach expands the wealth of knowledge for the prediction of wildfire incidents and proves the usefulness of the novel, image-based dataset.