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Climate change will likely alter the atmospheric patterns that affect fire weather. Changes in fire patterns will in turn impact carbon cycling, forest structure, and species composition. In the summary paper 'Wildland Fire and Climate Change', Forest Service scientists who study wildfire explain what is known about these interactions and what management options are available to resource managers.
We've also provided readings on this subject that range from technical peer-reviewed literature to general briefings on fire research and the climate-fire connection. Browse descriptions of some of the current Forest Service research projects that study fire and climate change, recommended websites, and fire-related tools for resource managers. All resources have been recommended by the Wildland Fire and Climate Change authors and the CCRC production team.
Previous (2008) versions of this paper are available here.
Fire has been a part of most of Earth's ecosystems for millions of years . Fire interacts with climate and vegetation (fuel) in predictable ways that are documented in lake-sediment records [2,3,4,5], fire-scarred trees [6,7,8], forest age-class distributions , and contemporary instrumental records [10,11]. Understanding climate-fire-vegetation interactions is essential for addressing nation-wide issues associated with climate change, particularly
- effects on regional circulation and other atmospheric patterns that affect fire weather .
- effects of changing fire regimes on the carbon cycle, forest structure, and species composition .
- complications from land-use change, invasive species, and an increasing wildland-urban interface .
Large fires (>300 acres) account for more than 95 percent of the area burned by wildfires in the United States in a given year. These fires are frequently associated with specific mesoscale (~5-1000 km) and broad scale (>1000 km) atmospheric circulation, temperature, and moisture patterns in different regions of the U.S. [15,16,17]. The short-term weather conditions that are conducive to severe fires (i.e. fire weather) are manifestations of these patterns. For example, in maritime forests of the Pacific Northwest, hot dry conditions combined with easterly winds are necessary to lower fuel moisture to the point of supporting widespread fire . Similar conditions, associated with blocking ridges, account for much of the area burned in the Canadian boreal forest [19,20]. In a very different ecosystem, southern California chaparral, seasonal weather in the form of Santa Ana winds accounts for most if not all of the large severe fires. Issues for land management generally arise at these regional scales, but projecting how they will change in response to larger-scale patterns is more challenging than projecting large-scale patterns themselves into the future.
Interactions between climate, fire, and vegetation, and their consequences, vary regionally and among ecosystem types within regions. For example, most forest ecosystems across the northwestern United States and Alaska have abundant fuels, and total fire extent across this region varies with fuel condition -- regional drought years produce low fuel moisture and high flammability . In contrast, in arid mountains and rangelands of the Southwest, alternating wet and dry years, associated with cycles of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and changing fuel abundance and connectivity, account for much of the interannual variability in area burned [6,11,21]. In the American Southeast, where fire plays a major role in ecosystems, fuels are abundant, and total fire extent varies with fuel condition, but changes in fire extent are also tied to the ENSO cycle, with La Niña years bringing reduced precipitation and increased fire . In drier forests US-wide, and often in moist southeastern forests, large fires can be the result of a "perfect storm" of weather conditions, fuel availability, and stand conditions. For example, portions of the Tripod Complex Fire in north central Washington that burned with highest intensity had been attacked recently by mountain pine beetles, leaving abundant dead fuels in the canopy that were vulnerable to high-intensity crown fire (Figure 1) .
Climate warming associated with elevated greenhouse-gas concentrations may create an atmospheric and fuel environment that is more conducive to large severe fires. The consensus view of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is that projected higher summer temperatures will likely increase the annual window of high fire risk by 10-30%, leading to a potential increase in area burned in Canada of 74-118% by the year 2100 [24,25,26]. General circulation model studies suggest that fire occurrence or area burned could increase across North America under a doubled CO2 environment because of increases in lightning activity, the frequency of surface pressure and associated circulation patterns conducive to surface drying, and fire-weather conditions in general that are conducive to severe wildfires [15,27,28,29].
Predictions past about 2040 are largely speculative given the current rate of increase in fossil fuel emissions , but a warmer climate will certainly amplify the effects of drought and is expected to increase the number of days in a year with flammable fuels, thereby extending fire seasons and area burned in ecoregions where fire extent is linked to fuel conditions . Most forests in the western United States fall into this category. In arid ecosystems, increased drought theoretically could reduce fuels to the point at which annual fire extent actually decreases . Statistical models linking area burned to water-balance deficit suggest that both these patterns may obtain , undermining coarse-scale predictions of huge increases in area burned in a warmer climate. Total forest area may also decrease with conversion of some forests to grasslands from the effects of more frequent fire . Further confounding predictions for arid ecosystems could be the continued spread of invasive plants such as buffelgrass and cheatgrass [33,34], which will increase fuel connectivity drastically. Overall, more fire is expected in western forests and rangelands for the foreseeable future, because of the preponderance of ecosystem types in which drought is strongly correlated with area burned. In the East, complex spatial patterns of land use and active prescribed fire programs make broad-scale predictions of area burned even more difficult than for the West; this requires ongoing research.
Future changes in fire frequency and severity are much harder to predict. Global and regional climate changes associated with elevated greenhouse gas concentrations could alter large weather patterns, thereby affecting fire-weather conducive to extreme fire behavior. The inherent complexity of analysis at "landscape scales" requires understanding both this atmospheric component and finer-scale controls on the ground. Even in a so-called "megafire" such as the Tripod Complex, fine-scale controls on fire spread, such as topographic barriers, can substantially change the spatial pattern of fire severity, both for individual fires and for fire regimes in the aggregate. At present we are able to suggest that at broad scales we can expect more large severe fires (increasing area burned at high severity), but are much less able to predict changes in fire severity within individual fires. Fire severity provides a negative feedback to fire frequency, particularly for area-based metrics of fire frequency such as the natural fire rotation or the fire cycle. It is therefore difficult to predict global changes in fire frequency in a warming climate, although estimates for specific fire regimes may be more tractable .
Options for Management
In some western dry forests, particularly those affected by 20th-century fire exclusion, thinning and surface fuel treatment (including prescribed burning) can reduce fire severity and fire hazard , although maintenance treatments may be required every 20 to 40 years. Strategic placement of treatments can greatly increase the effective area treated . In unmanaged forests, especially in areas in which fire suppression is difficult, expensive, or counterproductive to resource objectives, managers can take advantage of the self-limiting nature of wildfire. Fire spread rates and severity are reduced when a fire reaches a recently burned area .
Fuel treatments will be challenging to implement at spatial scales large enough to have much impact, especially if wildfire increases greatly in the future, but can enhance resilience on specific landscapes with high resource, economic, or political values (e.g., the wildland-urban interface). In the Southeast, undergrowth may grow even faster in warmer temperatures. Management practices may need to respond to an increase in available fuels, while anticipating a shortening of the prescribed burning "season", particularly in Florida .
Some general guidelines for adaptation [40,41,42]
- Increase landscape diversity -- increase large-scale resilience, size of management units, and connectivity.
- Maintain biological diversity -- experiment with species and genotype mixes, and identify species, populations, and communities that are sensitive to increased fire and develop conservation plans for them.
- Plan for post-disturbance management -- treat fire and other ecological disturbances as normal processes and incorporate fire management into planning.
- Maintain and improve the resilience of watersheds and aquatic ecosystems by implementing practices that protect, maintain, and restore watershed processes and services.
- Implement early detection and rapid response -- monitor post-fire conditions, and eliminate or control exotic species early on.
- Manage for realistic outcomes -- identify key thresholds and prioritize projects with a high probability of success; abandon hopeless causes; consider even alternatives that might be undesirable in an unchanging climate.
- Incorporate climate change into restoration -- avoid trying to replicate historical conditions, but continue to learn lessons from historical variation.
- Develop regulations and policies that take climate change into account -- raise awareness with stakeholders, and work with local stakeholders from the onset of projects.
- Anticipate big surprises -- expect mega droughts, larger fires, species extirpations, loss of resilience and system collapses, and incorporate these events in planning.
1 acre = 0.405 hectares
Degree Fahrenheit (F) to Celsius (F-32) x 0.56 = C
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2. Clark, J.S. 1990. Fire and climate change during the last 750 yr in northwestern Minnesota. Ecological Monographs. 60:135-159.
3. Gavin, D.G., D.J. Hallett, F.S. Hu, K.P. Lertzman, S.J. Prichard, K.J. Brown, J.A. Lynch, P. Bartlein, and D.L. Peterson. 2007. Forest fire and climate change in western North America: insights from sediment charcoal records. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 5:499-506.
4. Higuera, P.E., L.B. Brubaker, P.M. Anderson, F.S. Hu, and T.A. Brown. 2009. Vegetation mediated the impacts of postglacial climate change on fire regimes in the south-central Brooks Range, Alaska. Ecological Monographs 79:201-219.
5. Lafon, C.W. 2010. Fire in the American South: vegetation impacts, history, and climatic relations. Geography Compass 4:919-944.
6. Swetnam, T.W., and J.L. Betancourt. 1990. Fire-Southern Oscillation relations in the southwestern United States. Science 249:1017-1020.
7. Hessl, A.E., D. McKenzie, and R. Schellhaas. 2004. Drought and Pacific Decadal Oscillation affect fire occurrence in the inland Pacific Northwest. Ecological Applications 14:425-442.
8. Heyerdahl, E.K., D. McKenzie, L.D. Daniels, A.E. Hessl, J.S. Littell, and N.J. Mantua. 2008. Climate drivers of regionally synchronous fires in the inland Northwest (1651-1900). International Journal of Wildland Fire 17:40-49.
9. Johnson, E.A., and S.L. Gutsell. 1994. Fire frequency models, methods, and interpretations. Advances in Ecological Research 25:239-287.
10. Gillett, N.P., A.J. Weaver, F.W. Zwiers, and M.D. Flannigan. 2004. Detecting the effect of climate change on Canadian forest fires. Geophysical Research Letters 31:L18211.
11. Littell, J.S., D. McKenzie, D.L. Peterson, and A.L. Westerling. 2009. Climate and wildfire area burned in western U.S. ecoprovinces, 1916-2003. Ecological Applications 19:1003-1021.
12. Meehl, G.A., T.F. Stocker, W.D. Collins, P. Friedlingstein, A.T. Gaye, J.M. Gregory, A. Kitoh, R. Knutti, J.M. Murphy, A. Noda, S.C.B. Raper, I.G. Watterson, A.J. Weaver, and Z.-C. Zhao. 2007. Global Climate Projections. In: Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M. Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
13. Raymond, C.L. 2010. Carbon dynamics of forests in Washington, U.S., and the effects of climate-driven changes in fire regimes on carbon storage potential. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
14. Miller, C., J. Abatzoglou, T. Brown, and A. Syphard. 2011. Wilderness fire management in a changing environment. Chapter 11 in McKenzie, D., C. Miller, and D.A. Falk, eds. The Landscape Ecology of Fire. Springer Ltd., Dordrecht, The Netherlands.
15. Takle, E.S., D.J. Bramer, W.E. Heilman, and M.R. Thompson. 1994. A synoptic climatology for forest fires in the NE US and future implications from GCM simulations. International Journal of Wildland Fire 4:217-224.
16. Heilman, W.E., B.E. Potter, and J.I. Zerbe. 1998. Regional climate change in the southern United States: the implications for wildfire occurrence. In: Mickler, R.A., and S. Fox, eds., The Productivity and Sustainability of Southern Forest Ecosystems in a Changing Environment. Springer-Verlag, New York, NY. pp. 683-699.
17. Heilman, W.E., J. Hom, and B.E. Potter. 2000. Climate and atmospheric deposition patterns and trends. In: Mickler, R.A., R.A. Birdsey, and J. Hom, eds., Responses of Northern U.S. Forests to Environmental Change. Springer-Verlag, New York, NY. pp. 51-115.
18. Gedalof, Z., D.L. Peterson, and N.J. Mantua. 2005. Atmospheric, climatic, and ecological controls on extreme wildfire years in the northwestern United States. Ecological Applications 15:154-174.
19. Johnson, E.A., and D.R. Wowchuk. 1993. Wildfires in the southern Canadian Rocky Mountains and their relationships to mid-tropospheric anomalies. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 23:1213-1222.
20. Skinner, W.R., B.J. Stocks, D.L. Martell, B. Bonsal, and A. Shabbar. 1999. The association between circulation anomalies in the mid-troposphere and area burned by wildfire in Canada. Theoretical and Applied Climatology 63:89-105.
21. Kitzberger T., P.M. Brown, E.K. Heyerdahl, T.W. Swetnam, and T.T. Veblen. 2007. Contingent Pacific-Atlantic Ocean influence on multi-century wildfire synchrony over western North America. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 104:543-548.
22. Beckage, B., W.J. Platt, M.G. Slocum, and B. Panko. 2003. Influence of the El Niño Southern Oscillation on fire regimes in the Florida Everglades. Ecology 84:3124-3130.
23. D. McKenzie and S.J. Prichard, personal observation.
24. Brown, T.J., B.L. Hall, and A.L. Westerling. 2004. The impact of twenty-first century climate change on wildland fire danger in the western United States: an applications perspective. Climatic Change 62:365-388.
25. Flannigan, M.D., K.A. Logan, B.D. Amiro, W.R. Skinner and B.J. Stocks, 2004. Future area burned in Canada. Climatic Change 72:1-16.
26. Parry, M.L., O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof and co-authors 2007: Technical Summary. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden, and C.E. Hanson, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, pp. 23-78.
27. Price C., and D. Rind. 1994. The impact of a 2 x CO2 climate on lightning-caused fires. Journal of Climate 7:1484-1494.
28. Flannigan, M.D., Y. Bergerson, O. Engelmark, and B.M. Wotton. 1998. Future wildfire in circumboreal forests in relation to global warming. Journal of Vegetation Science 9:469-476.
29. Flannigan, M.D., B.J. Stocks, and B.M. Wotton. 2000. Climate change and forest fires. The Science of the Total Environment 262:221-229.
30. Littell, J.S., E.A. Oneil, D. McKenzie, J.A. Hicke, J.A. Lutz, R.A. Norheim, and M.M. Elsner. 2010. Forest ecosystems, disturbance, and climatic change in Washington State, USA. Climatic Change 102:129-158.
31. McKenzie, D., and J.S. Littell. 2011. Climate change and wilderness fire regimes. International Journal of Wilderness in press.
32. Frelich, L.E., and P.B. Reich. 2010. Will environmental changes reinforce the impact of global warming on the prairie-forest border of central North America? Frontiers in Ecology and the Envi-ronment 8:371-378.
33. Fischer, R.A., K.P. Reese, and J.W. Connelly. 1996. An investigation on fire effects within xeric sage grouse brood habitat. Journal of Range Management 49:194-198.
34. Esque, T.C., C.R. Schwalbe, J.A. Lissow, D.F. Haines, D. Foster, and M. Garnett. 2006. Buffelgrass fuel loads in Saguaro National Park, Arizona, increase fire danger and threaten native species. Park Science 24:33-37.
35. Williams, J. W., and S.T. Jackson. 2007. Novel climates, no-analog plant communities, and ecological surprises: past and future. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 5:475-482.
36. Prichard, S.J., D.L. Peterson, and K. Jacobson. 2010. Fuel treatments reduce the severity of wildfire effects in dry mixed-conifer forest, Washington, USA. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 40:1615-1626.
37. Finney, M.A. 2007. A computational method for optimising fuel treatment locations. International Journal of Wildland Fire 16:702-711.
38. Collins B.M., J.D. Miller, A.E. Thode, M. Kelly, J.W. van Wagtendonk, and S.L. Stephens. 2009. Interactions among wildland fires in a long-established Sierra Nevada natural fire area. Ecosystems 12:114–128.
39. F.A. Heinsch, personal observation.
40. Millar, C.I., N.L. Stephenson, and S.L. Stephens. 2007. Climate change and forests of the future: managing in the face of uncertainty. Ecological Applications 17:2145-2151.
41. Joyce, L.A., G.M. Blate, S.G. McNulty, C.I. Millar, S. Moser, R.P. Neilson, and D.L. Peterson. 2009. Managing for multiple resources under climate change: national forests. Environmental Management 44:1022-1032.
42. Furniss, M.J., B.P. Staab, S. Hazelhurst, C.F. Clifton, K.B. Roby, B.L. Ilhadrt, E.B. Larry, A.H. Todd, L.M. Reid, S.J. Hines, K.A. Bennett, C.H. Luce, and P.J. Edwards. 2010. Water, climate change, and forests: watershed stewardship for a changing climate. USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PNW-GTR-812. Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, OR. 75 p.
McKenzie, D.; Heinsch, F.A.; Heilman, W.E. 2011. Wildland Fire and Climate Change. (January 17, 2011). U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Climate Change Resource Center.http://www.fs.fed.us/ccrc/topics/wildland-fire.shtml
The following documents have been recommended by the authors of the synthesis paper and by the CCRC Production team.
Frelich, L.E., and P.B. Reich. 2010. Will environmental changes reinforce the impact of global warming on the prairie-forest border of central North America? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 8:371-378. http://www.esajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1890/080191
Gavin, D.G., D.J. Hallett, F.S. Hu, K.P. Lertzman, S.J. Prichard, K.J. Brown, J.A. Lynch, P. Bartlein, and D.L. Peterson. 2007. Forest fire and climate change in western North America: insights from sediment charcoal records. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 5:499–506, doi:10.1890/060161. http://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/29317
Halofsky, J.E., D.L. Peterson, K.A. O'Halloran, and C.H. Hoffman, eds. 2011. Adapting to climate change at Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park. USDA Forest Service General Technical Report PNW-GTR-xxx. Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, OR.
Heilman, W.E., B.E. Potter, and J.I. Zerbe. 1998. Regional climate change in the southern United States: The implications for wildfire occurrence. In: Mickler, R.A., and S. Fox, eds., The Productivity and Sustainability of Southern Forest Ecosystems in a Changing Environment. Springer-Verlag, New York, NY. pp. 683-699. http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/pdf1998/heilm98a.pdf
Higuera, P.E., L.B. Brubaker, P.M. Anderson, F.S. Hu, and T.A. Brown. 2009. Vegetation mediated the impacts of postglacial climate change on fire regimes in the south-central Brooks Range, Alaska. Ecological Monographs 79:201-219. http://www.esajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1890/07-2019.1
Hurteau, M.D., and M. North. 2010. Carbon recovery rates following different wildfire risk mitigation treatments. Forest Ecology and Management 260(5): 930-937. http://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/36883
Joyce, L.A., G.M. Blate, S.G. McNulty, C.I. Millar, S. Moser, R.P. Neilson, and D.L. Peterson. 2009. Managing for multiple resources under climate change: national forests. Environmental Management 44:1022-1032. http://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/34207
Littell, J.S., D. McKenzie, D.L. Peterson, and A.L. Westerling. 2009. Climate and wildfire area burned in western U.S. ecoprovinces, 1916-2003. Ecological Applications 19:1003-1021. http://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/34500
Liu, Y.; Stanturf, J.A. and S.L. Goodrick. 2009. Trends in global wildfire potential in a changing climate. Forest Ecology and Management 259:685-697. http://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/36444
Miller, C., J. Abatzoglou, T. Brown, and A. Syphard. 2011. Wilderness fire management in a changing environment. Chapter 11 in McKenzie, D., C. Miller, and D.A. Falk, eds. The Landscape Ecology of Fire. Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands. View article abstract.
Prichard, S.J., D.L. Peterson, and K. Jacobson. 2010. Fuel treatments reduce the severity of wildfire effects in dry mixed conifer forest, Washington, USA. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 40:1615-1626. http://ddr.nal.usda.gov/bitstream/10113/45309/1/IND44421653.pdf
The Fire-Climate Connection – Fire Science Digest, Joint Fire Science Program (2007) (Fall 2007, 12 pp, 1 MB)
Science Updates Issue 6 - Western Forest, Fire Risk, and Climate Change. (January 2004, 12 pp, 1.6 MB)
Science Findings Issue 74 - Fanning the Flames: Climate Change Stacks Odds Against Fire Suppression. (July 2005, 6 pp, 646 K) - Featured scientist Jeremy Fried
Science Findings Issue 75 - Climate Change and California: Potential Implications for Vegetation, Carbon, and Fire (August 2005, 6 pp, 664 K) - Featured scientist Jim Lenihan
Science Perspectives PSW-SP-004 - Managing Wildland Fires: Integrating Weather Models Into Fire Projections (Fall 2004, 6 pp, 5.2 MB) - Featured scientist Francis Fujioka
Each of these summaries represent Forest Service research related to fire and climate change. More examples will be added as our Research Roundup is updated.
Disturbance Processes: Interactions of fire, climate, and other disturbance processes and their influences (singly and together) on sustainability of forest ecosystems.
Recurring fires and varying climate historically played a key role in influencing the species composition, stand structures, and landscape mosaics of most forest ecosystems in western North America. In Mediterranean climates, fires and variation in climate itself are key agents of change that may or may not match societal interests. These agents, singly and in concert, alter forests over a wide range of scales by damaging or killing some plants, stimulating regeneration and growth of other plants, and setting the stage for succession. In addition, fire affects many processes in the soil and forest floor by consuming organic matter and by inducing thermal and chemical changes.
Contact: Carl N. Skinner, Eric E. Knapp
Climate Change Effects on Historical Range of Variability of Two Large Landscapes in Central Utah
Land managers need to be able to generate landscape composition and structure reference time series under historical, current, and future climate conditions to effectively prioritize, design, and implement current landscape level restoration treatments. RMRS scientists are conducting a simulation study to generate reference conditions for three climate scenarios and three fire regime scenarios using the landscape fire succession model LANDSUM. LANDSUM is being parameterized and initialized using spatial data generated from the LANDFIRE prototype project. The variation of simulated burned area and dominant vegetation types will be compared with the current landscape to determine departure. These departures will then be compared across the two climate scenarios to determine the implications of changing fire regimes and climates to fire management.
Contact: Bob Keane
Fire and Climatic Variability in the Pacific Northwest (PDF, 44 pp, 1.04 M)
Understanding how fire has behaved in the past under different management scenarios can help in anticipating what fire patterns may be like in the future. In the Pacific Northwest, ongoing research aims to understand historic fire trends and their connection to climate.
Contact: Don McKenzie
Effects of Climate Change on Wildfires (PDF, 36 pp, 2.47 M)
PSW scientists are developing statistical models to quantify, assess and forecast effects of climate change variables on wildland fires. This study is in collaboration with UC Merced School of Environmental Engineering and Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
Contact: Haiganoush Preisler
Climate Drivers of Fire and Fuel in the Northern Rockies: Past, Present and Future
RMRS scientists have data on fire extent and climate from almost four centuries (1650-2003) in the Idaho and western Montana. Our data corroborate and support Westerling et al. (2006) findings that climate variability and climate change are contributing to larger and more extensive fires across the West, but especially in the northern Rockies. We parameterized vegetation simulation model with information from these fire history data to simulate potential consequences of regional climate-fire interactions and management strategies on landscape patterns.
Contact: Carol Miller, Emily Heyerdahl
Eastern Area Modelling Consortium
The EAMC is a multi-agency coalition of researchers and managers at the Federal, State, and local levels that is focused on fire weather, fire behavior, and smoke transport issues in the north central and northeastern U.S. The EAMC carries out core fire science research and product development related to physical fire processes (including small-scale fire-fuel-atmosphere interactions and smoke plume behavior), fire characteristics at multiple scales, and fire danger assessment (including atmospheric processes associated with fire-weather development and evolution).
Contact: Warren Heilman
Measuring wildfire potential using the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) (PDF, 3 pp, 15 KB)
A study to project future wildfire potential trends is being conducted in the Center for Forest Disturbance Science, US Forest Service Southern Research Station. This project consists of three phases to project wildfire potential in the globe, the U.S., and the South, respectively. The first phase is completed, the second one is underway, and the last one is planned for the next year. The first publication on global wildfire trends is available here.
Contact: Yongqiang Liu
This publication provides a state-of-science summary of tools currently available for management of vegetation and fuels. Many of the tools in this publication cover climate and carbon related topics such as emissions from fire, fuel consumption due to fire, and climatic influences on fire patterns.
FOFEM is a model that predicts first-order fire effects including tree mortality, fuel consumption, emissions (smoke) production, and soil heating caused by prescribed burning or wildfire. Estimated emissions are included for CO2, CO, CH4, SO2, NOx, PM2.5 and PM10.