USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station

Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.

Management options for reducing wildfire risk and maximizing carbon storage under future climate changes, ignition patterns, and forest treatments

Principal Investigators:
Robert Scheller, Portland State University
Jian Yang, University of Nevada-Reno
Peter Weisberg, University of Nevada-Reno
Alison Stanton, BMP Ecosciences

Proposal [pdf]

Final Report [pdf]

Additional Reports:
Loudermilk et al. 2013 [pdf]
Loudermilk et al. 2014 [pdf]

Please contact Dr. Robert Scheller with questions regarding the reports.

Project Summary

The objectives of this project were to 1) evaluate the emergent responses of multiple interacting processes, namely climate change and wildfire regime, on total forest carbon and succession dynamics, and 2) evaluate the long-term effects of fuel treatments in mitigating wildfires and sequestering forest carbon (C), in a contemporary and climate change context, within the regional landscape of the Lake Tahoe Basin, CA and NV.

Two future C emissions scenarios as expressed within the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory General Circulation Model, in combination with a landscape-scale model of forest succession, stochastic wildfire, and C dynamics were used to examine the potential effects of projected climate change on: 1) forest growth rates, 2) individual tree species response, 3) C sequestration potential and net C emissions to the atmosphere, and 4) wildfire activity, including changes in future ignition patterns.

The independent effects of temperature and precipitation within and between emissions scenarios, as well as fire-climate interactions, were assessed. The relative influences of different spatial controls and resulting spatial patterns for both lightning- and human-caused fire occurrences were also examined. Forest thinning prescriptions were simulated to understand long-term effects of fuel treatments on wildfires, above- and belowground C dynamics, and species and community structure across the climate regimes.

A multiple fuel treatment scenario design was used to examine the interactive effects of treatment application in terms of spatial arrangement and location, rotation period, and prescription type.