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Individual Highlight

Climate Change and Associated Fire Potential for the Southeastern United States in the 21st century

Photo of Mean Keetch-Byram Drought Indices for May (left) and June (right), where (a) and (b) reflect recent historical values and (c) and (d) show future values. (e) and (f) display the difference maps for both months, where recent historical values are subtracted from future values. USDA Forest ServiceMean Keetch-Byram Drought Indices for May (left) and June (right), where (a) and (b) reflect recent historical values and (c) and (d) show future values. (e) and (f) display the difference maps for both months, where recent historical values are subtracted from future values. USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : This study examines how fire potential may change in the Southeast during the 21st century. While previous studies have focused on changes in just temperature and precipitation, this study takes a broader approach and examines changes in relative humidity, atmospheric stability, and drought.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Goodrick, Scott 
Research Location : Athens, GA
Research Station : Southern Research Station (SRS)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 709

Summary

Climate models indicate that the climate of the southeastern U.S. will experience increasing temperatures and associated evapotranspiration in the 21st century. The current study found that conditions in the southeastern U.S. will likely become drier overall, given a warmer environment during future winter and spring seasons. This study examined the potential effects of a warmer climate in the 21st century on relevant meteorological fire parameters such as total and convective precipitation, 500-hPa [American units] geopotential heights, near-surface relative humidity, and popular fire indices like (Haines and Keetch-Byram Drought Indices in the south-eastern U.S. Although the results offered conflicting implications in portions of the study domain, the southern half of the southeastern U.S., including the Deep South, the southern Piedmont, and Florida) exhibited the highest potential for increasing fire activity in the mid-21st century, given maximum warming and drying in these areas, especially in the spring season.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

 
  • Anthony Bedel, Kentucky Division for Air Quality
  • Dr. Thomas Mote, University of Georgia