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WWETAC Tools

Climate Change

In order to develop Forest Plans for the future, land managers need to know how wildlands and their natural resources may be affected by potential changes in temperature and precipitation due to climate change. WWETAC has supported the development of several tools that can assist land managers in planning for potential future conditions.

Dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs) allow us to visualize potential changes in vegetation in response to the changing environment and their associated effects (increased wildfire risk, drought, and insect outbreaks). BioMAP is a dynamic global vegetation model created by hybridizing the Biome-BGC ecosystem model and the MAPSS biogeography model and adding a process-based fire model. It simulates vegetation response to climate change over centuries, and can be used to predict vegetation type shifts, carbon storage, evapotranspiration and runoff for at scales from a single plot to regions, continents and the globe. This web map displays BioMAP data for CA.

The Template for Assessing Climate Change Impacts and Management Options (TACCIMO) was designed to help staff incorporate climate change into Forest Plan Revisions by providing summarized information and links to scientific publications relevant to place-based natural resources. TACCIMO is a web based tool, developed by both the Eastern and Western Threat Centers, which features a searchable database developed from peer-reviewed scientific literature of climate change effects on natural resources and potential management options for these effects. TACCIMO also includes current climate change projections, including the likely range of projected future climate.

Natural Resource Managers are increasingly being asked how climate change will affect ecosystem functions and output. Climate scientists have produced numerous models that depict projected changes across large (i.e. continental and global) landscapes. These Global Climate Model (GCM) outputs are often inapplicable to landscapes at the regional and sub-regional scale due to their coarse resolution and uncertaintity at large scales. To address this issue, efforts have been made to downscale these models. Downscaling is a process where more localized climate and weather models are integrated dynamically or statistically into the the GCM's to produce data at a finer resolution. Data from these downscaled models are more relevant at scales typically of concern for land managers. A consortium of federal agencies contracted with the Climate Impacts Group (CIG) at the University of Washington to produce downscaled models and data for the Columbia, Upper Missouri, Colorado, and Great Basins. California basins added 12/2012. These data are presented in the WestWide Climate Change web map.

 

Wildfire Risk and Fuels Management

Tools for assessing wildfire risk are becoming increasingly important as more people move into fire-prone areas, fuel levels increase due to wildfire suppression and climate change increases fire occurrence and severity. Wildfire risk tools aide land managers determine where fires are likely to occur and how to prioritize their resources in order to mitigate losses. Fuels management tools help assess which treatments will be most effective in reducing fire hazard or severity. WWETAC has been instrumental in the production and development of several tools for assessing wildfire risk as well as determining appropriate fuel treatments in a variety of situations.

The Western Wildfire Risk Explorer (WWRE) is an online interactive map available to the public. WWRE summarizes the burn probability, conditional flame length, and flame length probability (for each of 6 flame length classes) at a subwatershed level within national forest boundaries. A separate report displays these values in graphical format for each national forest in the west. When the user selects the national forest from a dropdown list, the map will zoom to the extent of the national forest.

ArcFuels is a GIS-based tool that managers can use to rapidly design and test fuel treatments at forest stand and landscape levels. ArcFuels creates stand to large landscape interface to apply various forest growth (FVS/FFE-FVS) and fire behavior models (i.e. FlamMap, BehavePlus) within ArcMap to design and test fuel treatment alternatives. ArcFuels has been implemented on Citrix at the Forest Service Enterprise Production Data Center, eliminating the need for desktop GIS, improving connectivity to the corporate geospatial databases housed at the data centers, and enabling sharing of information among Forest Service employees.

The Landscape Treatment Designer (LTD) program allows users to determine the best sites for fuel reduction treatments across a landscape. LTD uses a multicriteria spatial prioritization and optimization system to help design and explore landscape fuel treatment scenarios, filling a gap between fire model programs such as FlamMap, and planning systems such as ArcFuels, in the fuel treatment planning process. This program allows users to determine the best sites for fuel reduction treatments across a landscape by utilizing inputs on spatial treatment objectives, activity constraints, and treatment thresholds. The program can be used in a number of different ways to explore treatment priority and decision rules that manifest themselves on large (1 million ha) landscapes as spatially explicit treatment strategies.

The Threat News Explorer (TNE) is a custom media search site that uses a Google news search engine to locate articles relevant to wildland threats. The site is a convenient way to track ongoing news about wildfires, bark beetles, climate change, and other important wildland threats. The site is hosted on an Amazon elastic cloud and is one of the first applications in the Forest Service that employs cloud computing technology. The user can view the latest, all, or selected articles for specific predefined threats and there is also an option to enter your own search terms.

The Restoration Treatment Optimization Model (RTOM) program was created to help design fuel treatment scenarios according to spatial and non-spatial objectives. The input data represent polygons that are attributed with information about expected fire behavior and the polygon’s overall contribution to one or more landscape management objectives. These can include non-spatial attributes such as stand conditions, and/or spatial attributes like the distance to fire susceptible landscape features like critical habitat or residential structures. The user supplies a treatment constraint that represents the maximum area that can be treated based on budgets or other constraints.

Biomass conditions on aridlands can fluctuate dramatically over time. Wildland fuels in these regions respond quickly to this variation especially when annual invasive species are present. There is a strong need for annual updates of fuel conditions in these non-forested landscapes to account for regional and inter-annual differences in vegetation productivity and potential fire behavior. A new satellite-based fuels monitoring program will enable characterization of wildland fuels on non-forested landscapes for the 48 contiguous states. These data will enable better evaluations of fire behavior enabling more strategic, timely and cost-effective management decisions.

Projecting climate change effects on coupled natural/human systems at small scales is important in land use planning and policy. A research project which will incorporate a fire model (FlamMap) into a planning model (ENVISION) will aid in these efforts. ENVISION models ecological, social, and economic services in order to predict land use change and provide planners with information about resulting landscapes. Incorporating FlamMap into the planning model will create a wildfire modeling system within ENVISION that can be used to examine the impacts of individual landowner decisions on long-term wildfire risk at landscape scales.

Lanscape Analysis

Consistent, readily scalable spatial maps of current vegetation condition and trends, fuel profiles and existing risk, as well as projected changes over time are essential tools for interagency assessments. WWETAC has been evaluating, testing, and comparing many types and combinations of mapping techniques as well as developing many of these map products and making them available online to users.

The Threat and Resource Mapping (TRM) suite of web maps and tools provide users with ways to map and evaluate multiple environmental threats at different landscape scales. WWETAC publishes threat and resource map services and integrates these with services published by other agencies, resulting in applications that provide users with ways to map and evaluate multiple environmental threats at different landscape scales. Additionally, WWETAC uses multispectral high resolution imagery to identify dominant tree species and detect drought stress, insect and pathogen attack, wildfire risk and current and future vegetation and carbon content from dynamic vegetation models. Examples of TRM applications include PhenoMap, near-real-time west-wide phenology, and the TRM WebMap which integrates fire risk, fragmentation, insect and disease risk, and climate change along with highly-valued resources (energy and telecomm infrastructure, WUI, wildlife habitat).

The Geospatial Search Engine (GSE) is a web-based search engine for GIS data that provides access to a wide range of map-based information. GSE combines a searchable database of GIS map servers and layers, with a web crawler for both locating new data and updating existing data. GSE is currently a standalone application, but there are plans to build a user friendly API to allow further access to the search engine. GSE supports web map services (WMS), ArcGIS services, ArcIMS services, and shapefiles for download.

ForWarn is a forest disturbance monitoring system that uses moderate resolution satellite data to provide maps of forest change, updated every 8 days, for the continental United States. These maps can show the effects of disturbances such as wildfires, invasive pests, pathogens, and extreme weather as well as a forest’s recovery from such disturbances over the course of time. Products from ForWarn include near real time forest change maps as well as an archive of past forest change maps and seasonal vegetation phenology maps.

The Threat News Explorer (TNE) is a forest disturbance monitoring s is a custom media search site that uses a Google news search engine to locate articles relevant to wildland threats. The site is a convenient way to track ongoing news about wildfires, bark beetles, climate change, and other important wildland threats. The site is hosted on an Amazon elastic cloud and is one of the first applications in the Forest Service that employs cloud computing technology. The user can view the latest, all, or selected articles for specific predefined threats and there is also an option to enter your own search terms.

Invasives

Invasive species pose significant threats to wildland ecosystems throughout the western United States. At times these introductions pose no threats, but in other cases these non-native species spread and multiply in their new habitats, invading and displacing native species, and altering forest structure and function. Native species can also become invasive when environmental conditions or disturbances prompt explosive growth of native species populations. Delivering information about the potential impacts of invasive species on forested landscapes and information on invasive species risk assessments to forest land managers is one of WWETAC’s primary goals.

ForWarn is a forest disturbance monitoring system that uses moderate resolution satellite data to provide maps of forest change, updated every 8 days, for the continental United States. These maps can show the effects of disturbances such as wildfires, invasive pests, pathogens, and extreme weather as well as a forest’s recovery from such disturbances over the course of time. Products from ForWarn include near real time forest change maps as well as an archive of past forest change maps and seasonal vegetation phenology maps.

The Threat News Explorer (TNE) is a custom media search site that uses a Google news search engine to locate articles relevant to wildland threats. The site is a convenient way to track ongoing news about wildfires, bark beetles, climate change, and other important wildland threats. The site is hosted on an Amazon elastic cloud and is one of the first applications in the Forest Service that employs cloud computing technology. The user can view the latest, all, or selected articles for specific predefined threats and there is also an option to enter your own search terms.

An initial risk calculation tool for invasive species in the intermountain west is being developed using a regional risk assessment approach. This approach will allow managers to set priorities for treating invasive plants in the Intermountain Region of the western United States. The approach includes demonstrations of invasive plant treatments at multiple scales that range from 1 to 4 acres to entire National Forests and Grasslands. Calculation of the relative risks due to multiple invasive species over the intermountain landscape will aid in the decision making process.

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