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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United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

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Jessica Halofsky

Jessica is a research scientist with the University of Washington conducting applied fire and climate change research and providing assistance to national forests and other land management agencies on adaptation to climate change.

Research Interests
  • Climate change – ecosystem impacts, vulnerability and adaptation
  • Fire and disturbance ecology
  • Vegetation dynamics
  • Incorporating science in land management
Current Project Summaries
Integration of FCCS and State-and-Transition Models

Photo of Jessica HalofskyInformation on the effects of management activities such as fuel reduction treatments and of processes such as vegetation growth and disturbance on fire hazard can help land managers prioritize treatments across a landscape to best meet management goals.  State and transition models (STMs) allow landscape-scale simulations that incorporate effects of succession, management and disturbance on vegetation composition and structure.  STMs have been used for many different types of landscape-scale assessments.  However, STMs do not currently assess fuels and fire hazard for different vegetation states.       

We integrated STMs with the Fuel Characteristic Classification System (FCCS) to enable assessment of fuel properties and fire hazard with succession, disturbance, and management across landscapes over time.  We created FCCS fuelbeds from inventory plots for each vegetation state in STMs covering forests and woodlands in Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington.  We used FCCS to analyze each fuelbed for its potential fire behavior, and we linked results to STM simulation output to assess potential changes in fire hazard with management and natural disturbance regimes over time. 

The analysis across the four-state study area resulted in thousands of fuelbeds that cover a broad range of fuel conditions, and the links between these fuelbeds and STMs can be used in efforts to develop successful fuel treatment regimes in fire-prone forests. 

Developing Climate-Smart State-and-Transition Models

Land managers and others need ways to understand the potential effects of climate change on local vegetation types and how management activities might impact or be impacted by climate change.  To date, climate change impacts models have not explicitly assessed the integrated effects of vegetation dynamics, natural disturbances, and management activities on vegetation communities.  We developed methods to link a dynamic global vegetation model (MC1) to local state and transition vegetation models.  Our methods allow examination of how climate change effects might play out in localized areas given a combination of vegetation dynamics, natural disturbances, and management actions. 

Olympic National Forest Climate Change Case Study

As a part of the WestWide Climate Initiative, we worked with managers on the Olympic National Forest to develop adaptation strategies for climate change and to incorporate those strategies into planning and projects on the forest. Olympic National Park and other landowners on the Olympic Peninsula were collaborators in this process. The final report from this project can be found at:

Curriculum Vitae [.pdf][.html]

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

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