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Wildland Fire and Fuels


Dry mixed-conifer forests are widespread in the interior Pacific Northwest, but their historical fire regimes are poorly characterized, in particular the relative mix of low- and high-severity fire. We reconstructed a multi-century history of fire from tree rings in dry mixed-conifer forests in central Oregon. These forests are dominated by ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa Lawson & C.
How did the forest and community get to the point where they were willing to take on managing a fire of this size and duration for resource benefit and hazard reduction? Science has recognized for decades that many forested ecosystems of the American West are shifting away from historically fire-adapted conditions. Beginning in the 1970’s a small handful of managers recognized this issue and developed wildland fire use concepts.
The extent of the Earth's surface burned annually by fires is affected by a number of drivers, including but not limited to climate. Other important drivers include the amount and type of vegetation (fuel) available and human impacts, including fire suppression, ignition, and conversion of burnable land to crops.
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The complexity and demands of wildland firefighting in the western U.S. have increased over recent decades due to factors including the expansion of the wildland-urban interface, lengthening fire seasons associated with climate change, and changes in vegetation due to past fire suppression and timber harvest.
Laboratory and field experiments focused on pyrolysis and ignition coupled with sufficient description of fuel characteristics and physics-based modeling are being used to improve our understanding of combustion processes in mixed (heterogeneous) fuel beds managed with prescribed fire in the southern United States.
We present a reconceptualization of forests in eastern North America by differentiating the ecological characteristics of open oak (Quercus) and pine (Pinus) forests from closed successional and oldgrowth forests. Despite historical abundance of savannas and woodlands, the fundamental ecology of open forest ecosystems remains ill-defined when compared to either closed forests or grasslands.
We present a direct broadcast (DB) rapid response burned area mapping algorithm for Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) data that combines products driven by the spectral signal of fire-affected areas from both emissive and reflective spectral bands.
Dendroecology is the science that dates tree rings to their exact calendar year of formation to study processes that influence forest ecology (e.g., Speer 2010 [1], Amoroso et al., 2017 [2]). Reconstruction of past fire regimes is a core application of dendroecology, linking fire history to population dynamics and climate effects on tree growth and survivorship.
As scientists and managers seek to understand fire behavior in conditions that extend beyond the limits of our current empirical models and prior experiences, they will need new tools that foster a more mechanistic understanding of the processes driving fire dynamics and effects.