Assessment of the Interaction of Climate Change, Fire, and Forests in the U.S. Published
The recent interest in fire and climate has been fueled by a growing scientific consensus that, across much of the U.S., wildfires are likely to become larger, more intense, and increasingly difficult to contain with climate change. The increase in intense fires is a phenomenon that is evident throughout the world; but, is particularly apparent in the western U.S., where an increase in large fires appeared markedly in the mid-1980s coincident with increased spring and summer temperatures and earlier snow melt. The last two decades have continued to see record wildfire seasons and escalating fire suppression costs. Society's ability to respond to climate change, mitigate negative consequences when possible, and adapt to those impacts that we are unable or unwilling to change will depend on a better understanding of the complex relationships between fire, vegetation and climate. The papers contained in the September issue of Forest Ecology and Management were crafted to provide scientific input on the topic of climate, fire, and forests into the third 2014 National Climate Assessment. the scientists' goal was to provide information on how management could affect the interaction between fire and climate change. Too often, management options are applied uniformly without adequate consideration of the regional and local factors that may influence their effectiveness. As the papers in the special issue show, forests across the U.S. differ in terms of the legacy of past fire suppression, the ecosystem service costs of increasingly large and severe wildfires, and the feasibility and benefits of active forest and fire management activities, such as thinning and prescribed fire.
Forest Service Partners