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Climate Change


Innovative quantitative approaches have been developed for evaluating wildfire and prescribed fire effects on wildlife communities in several western North American national forests.
This study measured the plant species composition changes within pika (Ochotona princeps) foraging zones compared to species composition 10+ meters outside of the zone.
Puccinia psidii is the cause of rust disease of many host species in the Myrtaceae, including guava, eucalypts, rose apple, and ‘ōhi’a. Our ongoing project indicates a single biotype is present in the United States (as well as Costa Rica, Mexico, and Jamaica) that is capable of infecting multiple host species. Data from South America indicate multiple genotypes are present, each associated with a particular host. Furthermore, our analyses revealed that the biotype in the United States is quite distinct from genotypes found in South America.
This project will predict the potential distribution of Armillaria solidipes (A. ostoyae) under present and future climate scenarios across the interior Western United States. The three proposed elements of the project include:
Wildfires occur at the intersection of dry weather, available fuel, and ignition sources. Weather is the most variable and largest driver of regional burned area. Temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, and wind speed independently influence wildland fire spread rates and intensities. The alignment of multiple weather extremes, such as the co-occurrence of hot, dry, and windy conditions, leads to the most severe fires.
Global surface temperatures have increased about 0.89°C during the period from 1901 to 2012. Northern Eurasia has experienced the greatest temperature increase to date and is projected to continue experiencing the largest temperature increase globally. High-latitude boreal and temperate ecosystems are particularly sensitive to climate change, and fire – a major disturbance in these ecosystems – responds rapidly to climate change.
Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists and their partners are conducting a project to explore what makes fuel treatments effective. The project, STANDFIRE, is a platform through which new fire science can be tested, assessed, and incorporated into fuel treatment analysis.
The Climate Shield website hosts geospatial data and related information on specific locations of cold-water refuge streams for native cutthroat trout and bull trout across the American West. Forecasts about the locations of refugia could enable the protection of key watersheds, be used to rally support among multiple stakeholders, and provide a foundation for planning climate-smart conservation networks that improve the odds of preserving native trout populations through the 21st century.
Climate change is projected to alter the flow regimes of streams and rivers, with consequences for physical processes and aquatic organisms. Our stream flow dataset makes it possible to study the effects of droughts, changes in snowpack, water resource impacts, and other hydrologic changes under historical and future climate change scenarios.
In the interior West, western spruce budworm outbreaks often last for decades, but their impact on fire behavior is poorly understood. By isolating the effects of the insect on a single tree and simulating the tree in a three-dimensional fire model, researchers were able to identify precise links between western spruce budworm disturbance and fire behavior changes.