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How is drought affecting the forests and rangelands of the United States?

January, 2015 to January, 2016

Drought has a variety of effects on forests and rangelands.
Drought has a variety of effects on forests and rangelands.

Dr. Karin L. Riley, Research Ecologist with the Human Dimensions program of the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, participated in a recent effort to synthesize the current science on this topic, along with 76 other scientists from federal land management agencies, universities, and other research institutions.

Dr. Riley’s work focused on drought and wildfires. Wildfire activity is strongly related to short-term droughts, with a lack of precipitation during the month prior to an ignition being strongly related to a fire's potential growth. Fire can interact with other environmental stressors, such as climate change and insect infestations, to produce exacerbated effects on ecosystems.

For more information, read the full report “Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis”, including Chapter 7 on fire and drought.



Littell, Jeremy S. ; Peterson, David L. ; Riley, Karin ; Liu, Yongqiang ; Luce, Charles H. , 2016

Project Contact: 

James M. Vose - USFS Southern Research Station
James S. Clark - Duke University
Toral Patel-Weynand - USFS Research & Development

Jeremy S. Littell - USGS Alaska Climate Science Center
David L. Peterson - USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station
Yongqiang Liu - USFS Southern Research Station