2024 CSDMS meeting-062


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The Spatial Impact of Fraxinus Snag Fall on Electric Distribution Infrastructure under Emerald Ash Borer Infestation

Erik Lyttek, Montclair State University East Hanover New Jersey, United States. elyttek@yahoo.com

The escalating rate of forest mortality, fueled by increasing climate variability and the spread of exotic pests and diseases, is a growing global concern. A significant contributor to this issue in North America is the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), an invasive pest responsible for the widespread destruction of ash trees (Fraxinus spp.), resulting in a sharp increase in the number of snags. Snags, or dead-standing trees, present significant risks to infrastructure, including buildings and electrical distribution systems. Our study focuses on New Jersey, a highly urbanized state with an extensive electric grid that intersects forested areas, many of which are populated with Fraxinus trees. In this research, an annual risk assessment methodology for evaluating the threat that Fraxinus snags pose to the electrical distribution infrastructure is presented, particularly in the context of New Jersey's ongoing efforts to enhance the resiliency and capacity of its electric distribution network through capacity upgrades. Employing an integrated approach composed of GIS, differential equations, and applied regression modeling, our analysis spans three northern New Jersey counties: Warren, Sussex, and Morris. These counties, which are under the utility management of New Jersey Central Power and Light, harbor a significant portion of the state's Fraxinus population, making them crucial areas for assessing the impact of snags on the electrical distribution infrastructure under different network parameterizations.