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Webinar - A GIS Approach to Assessing Population Vulnerability to Smoke in the Southeastern US

Apr 29, 2015 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

Time listed is Eastern time.

This webinar explores the spatial association between social vulnerability and smoke plume dispersion at the census block group level for the thirteen southern states in the USDA Forest Service’s Region 8. Using environmental justice as a conceptual basis, we use Exploratory Spatial Data Analysis to identify clusters or “hot spots” of the coincidence of both higher than average socially marginal populations and plume dispersion. The larger health disparities and environmental justice literature suggests that lower income and minority populations in the U.S. face greater exposure than middle/upper income, non-minority populations to environmental pollutants; however, we are aware of only a few studies examining this relationship in the context of population exposure to wildfires or prescribed fires in the U.S. South, despite the high occurrence of wildfires in the region.


Cassandra Johnson Gaither is a research social scientist with the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station in Athens, GA. Her research interests revolve around human community access to environmental amenities like open-lands recreation and urban green space.

Scott Goodrick is a Project Leader and Supervisory Research Meteorologist with the USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station in Athens, GA. His research focuses on wind-related disturbance, air quality and smoke management, and fire/climste relationships.

Bryn Elise Murphy is a graduate student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Bryn is interested in a career in urban and community forestry research and outreach, particularly with the growing Spanish-speaking population in the South.

Neelam Poudyal is an Assistant Professor of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources in the Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries at University of Tennessee. He has Ph.D. in Natural Resources, an M.A. in Geography, and B.S. in Forestry.