USDA Forest Service

Logo of the FERA research teamFire 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

Logo of the Pacific Northwest Research Station

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

USDA Link Forest Service Link


C. Alina Cansler

Photo of Alina CanslerAlina is a Ph.D. student at the University of Washington, funded by FERA. Her research interests include:

  • Understanding the causes and ecological consequences of spatial variation of burn  severity
  • Examine the influence of climate change on temporal and spatial variation in fire regimes
  • Integrating contagious disturbance processes into climate-based models of vegetation distribution

Curriculum Vitae [.pdf][.html]

Project Summaries

  • Burn Severity in the Northern Cascade Range of Washington, USA

    • Remote Sensing of Burn Severity – Landsat TM data and two indices, the differenced Normalized Burn Ratio (dNBR) and the Relative differenced Normalized Burn Ratio are commonly used to used by researchers and fire managers to assess post-fire effects (see MTBS website for more details). The relationship between these indices and field measurements of burn severity has not been evaluated in all ecosystems.The accuracy of two remotely sensed indices of burn severity, the differenced Normalized Burn Ratio (dNBR) and the Relative differenced Normalized Burn Ratio (RdNBR) was assessed using field data from 639 plots located across four fires in the northern Cascade Range. DNBR and RdNBR performed similarly and both would be suitable for producing classified burn severity images in the northern Cascade Range. Overall, RdNBR had the highest classification accuracy and was used as the basis for categorical images of burn severity for all 125 fires in the northern Cascade Range burn-severity atlas.
    • Quantifying spatial variation in severity – Mixed-severity fire regimes exhibit a complex spatial pattern due to the variable severity within individual fires.  Categorical remotely sensed burn severity images from 125 fires in the northern Cascade Range were used to evaluate a variety of statistical methods that quantify and characterize spatial patterns of burn severity. Spatial pattern metrics that showed the greatest differentiation between fires and could be easily interpreted by researchers and manages were identified, providing a basis for examining differences in the large category of mixed severity fire. Differences between the burn severity patterns of four ecological subsections within the larger study area, providing a description of recent burn severity patterns in the northeastern Cascade Range, which can be compared to historic patch structure and future changes. 
    • The influence of climate and topography on burn severity and burn severity pattern – Warmer and drier climate conditions have been linked with increased large fire occurrence and increased area burned in forested ecosystems of western North America. Concern has been expressed by researchers and managers that increases in the severity of fires and increases in the size of high severity patches will be concurrent with increases in area burned. This study examined the influence of annual climate and topographical complexity on the occurrence, size, severity, and within-fire severity pattern of 125 fires in the northern Cascade Range. Results show that the fire occurrence, area burned, burn severity and the spatial pattern of burn severity of the northern Cascade Range responds to annual climatic variation, but that the within-fire severity mosaic also reflects the underlying topographic complexity.

      Cansler, C. A. 2011. Drivers of burn severity in the northern Cascade Range, Washington. M.S. Thesis. University of Washington, Seattle, WA. [.pdf 11.8 MB]

      C.A. Cansler, D. McKenzie. 2010. Climatic and topographical influences on fire regime attributes in the northern Cascade Range, Washington, USA. Contributed poster. American Geophysical Union Annual Meeting. [.pdf 6.8 MB]

  • Post-fire Regeneration at the Alpine-Upper Treeline Ecotone

    Upper treeline environments have been hypothesized to be some of the most sensitive to changes in climate but research has shown that environmental variation and biotic feedbacks at local scale often override the influence of regional climate on seedling germination, survival, and recruitment. Additionally, climate change is likely to affect the occurrence and magnitude of disturbances process in these ecosystems. This study will use remote sensing data, field data, and spatial modeling to address the influence of local environmental and biotic factors and regional climate on post-fire tree regeneration at the alpine-upper treeline ecotone in the Cascade Range and northern Rocky Mountains. 


U.S. Forest Service - PNW- FERA
Last Modified: Monday, 16 December 2013 at 14:18:41 CST

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.