USDA Forest Service

Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team


Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team
Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory

400 N 34th Street, Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98103

(206) 732-7800

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Android App Searches the Forest Service Research Data Archive

A mobile application (app) for the Forest Service Research Data Archive is now available. Built for Android operating system, it can be downloaded on your phone/tablet.

See links below or search for “Research Data Archive (USFS).”

Features include:

  • Search for data sets of interest
  • Explore more than 150 data sets contributed by you and your colleagues across R&D.
  • Use digital maps to see where the data were collected
  • Export search results as an Excel document and share it via e-mail
  • An Easy Share Action allows you to share data set details via e-mail
  • Send feedback via a menu option 


Large Spatial Data Sets and Complex Equations Unite!

The Alaska Fire Science Consortium recently featured the connections made between three computer-based systems from the Wildland Fire Emissions Information System (WFEIS), which calculates emissions of CO2 or other gases from large fires across the US and Canada from 1984-2010.  

The simple interface has few requirements, many options, and can provide modeled emissions based upon user-defined areas, dates, and units of measure. There are also other options for customization of the results. 

Although this tool is for post-hoc emissions analysis, it is a good example of how large spatial data sets and complex equations can be united in a simple graphical interface allowing one to query the forest fire emissions from the 231,000 acres burned in Alaska in 2010 (10.9 million tons CO2, 95,000 tons PM2.5). 

WFEIS includes: (a) two models by the FERA team (the Fuel Characteristic Classification System, and Consume); (b) Michigan Tech’s consumption field data—derived from NASA studies—and (c) LANDFIRE’s fire perimeter maps. 

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Study Contrasts Tolerance of Smoke Amongst Communities in the Interior West and Southcentral United States

This study focused on one of the main challenges faced by fire managers—smoke from prescribed fires. It was conducted by the University of Idaho and targeted the lack of understanding related to public opinions toward smoke from prescribed fires or the factors that underlie public tolerance of smoke.

Results are consistent with a relatively large body of existing research related to public acceptability of prescribed fire and provide a solid foundation for reinforcing and building upon the high level of trust in fire managers and beliefs about the benefits of prescribed fire.

Public appraisal of threats from potential smoke impacts was also a direct predictor of smoke tolerance and can be used as a tool to tailor specific messages to address public concerns.

We acknowledge funding from the Joint Fire Science Program Project #10-1-03-2.

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Representing Climate, Disturbance, and Vegetation Interactions in Landscape Models

The prospect of rapidly changing climates over the next century calls for methods to predict their effects on myriad, interactive ecosystem processes. FERA’s Don McKenzie joined five colleagues in setting out a strategy to help overcome the challenges in modeling such interactions.

This paper in Ecological Modeling presents a strategy for constructing the next generation of landscape models to ensure that interactions are modeled at appropriate scales of time and space, and that processes representing these interactions are simulated mechanistically when possible  Six key questions help frame this strategy and offer guidance and possible solutions on the structure and content needed for future landscape models to incorporate climate-vegetation-disturbance interactions effectively.

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Effects of Salvage Logging and Pile-and-Burn on Fuel Loading, Potential Fire Behaviour, Fuel Consumption and Emissions

Field measurements and simulation modelling were used by FERA’s Morris Johnson to measure effects of salvage logging, and a combination of salvage logging and pile-and-burn fuel surface fuel treatment (treatment combination), on fuel loadings, fire behaviour, fuel consumption and pollutant emissions.

Salvage logging and the treatment combination significantly reduced fuel loadings, fuelbed depth and smoke emissions.

Collaborators included Jessica E. Halofsky and David L. Peterson. This project was funded by the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest research station and region, along with the Oregon BLM State office.

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A 350-year Reconstruction of the Response of South Cascade Glacier to Interannual and Interdecadal Climatic Variability

Mountain hemlock growth chronologies were used to reconstruct the mass balance of South Cascade Glacier, an alpine glacier in the North Cascade Range of Washington State. The net balance reconstruction spans 350 years, from 1659 to 2009.

Relationships between mass balance and winter precipitation, temperature, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation index, and the El Niño Southern Oscillation index indicate that these influence glacier balance at various temporal scales. Above- and below-average reconstructed mass balances at South Cascade Glacier were concurrent with similar periods from other glacier balance reconstructions in the Pacific Northwest region of North America.

Agreement among these records suggests that changes in South Cascade Glacier mass balance are good indicators of regional balance fluctuations. The current rate of decline, from 2000 to 2009, in the reconstructed balance record has been faster than any decline in a century. This decreasing trend is projected to continue with increasing temperatures, and will likely affect glacier-influenced water resources in the Pacific Northwest.

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Representing Climate, Disturbance, and Vegetation Interactions in Landscape Models

The complicated dependencies among climate, disturbance, and vegetation present a difficult challenge for land managers because their simulation must reconcile processes and their interactions that occur at different spatial and temporal scales. We identify six key questions to frame this strategy and then provide guidance and possible solutions on the structure and content needed in future LMs to ensure that climate-vegetation-disturbance interactions are incorporated effectively

Authors collaborating on this paper, in the journal Ecological Modeling, were Bob Keane, Don McKenzie, Don Falk, Erica Smithwick, Carol Miller, and Lara-Karena Kellogg.

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