You are here: Home / Research Topics / Research Highlights / Individual Highlight

Research Highlights

Individual Highlight

Potential Effects of Regional Climate Change on Fire Weather in the U.S.

Photo of Potential changes in the average length (days: black contours) of weather events that are conducive to extreme fire behavior under projected future climate conditions compared to current climate conditions, as quantified by Haines Index values equal to 5 or 6.  Color shading indicates changes in standard deviation. USDA Forest ServicePotential changes in the average length (days: black contours) of weather events that are conducive to extreme fire behavior under projected future climate conditions compared to current climate conditions, as quantified by Haines Index values equal to 5 or 6. Color shading indicates changes in standard deviation. USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : Regional climate change has the potential to alter the frequency of extreme and erratic wildfires in the United States. Regional climate model projections of future climate conditions in different regions of the U.S. can to identify areas where the atmospheric environment may be more or less conducive to extreme fire behavior.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Heilman, Warren E. 
Research Location : Northeast and Midwest
Research Station : Northern Research Station (NRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 598

Summary

Occurrences of large and sometimes extreme and erratic wildfires have raised speculation in the fire and forest management communities about what projected future climate conditions might mean for future wildfire activity and fire weather in different regions of the United States. Forest Service researchers collaborated with researchers at Michigan State University to assess how projected regional climate change in the U.S. might affect the frequency of occurrence of atmospheric conditions conducive to extreme fire behavior. Using atmospheric moisture and temperature data obtained from an ensemble of North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP) regional climate model simulations of the current (1971-2000) and future (2041-2070) climates, these scientists were able to identify areas in the U.S. where future climate conditions may lead to more extreme wildfire behavior as quantified by an operational fire-weather index. Results from this project are intended to help natural resource managers develop long-term plans that account for the effects of regional climate change on extreme wildfire occurrence.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Lifeng Luo, Shiyuan Zhong, and Ying Tang, Michigan State University

Strategic
Program Areas

Priority
Areas