Future of Fire: Towards a National Synthesis of Wildland Fire Under a Changing Climate

Science Center Objects

Abundant scientific research has characterized the relationships between climate and fire in ecosystems of the United States, and there is substantial evidence that the role of fire in ecosystems is likely to change with a changing climate. However, there is considerable local-to-regional heterogeneity in the observed and projected changes, driven by the historical and current patterns in fuel ...

Abundant scientific research has characterized the relationships between climate and fire in ecosystems of the United States, and there is substantial evidence that the role of fire in ecosystems is likely to change with a changing climate. However, there is considerable local-to-regional heterogeneity in the observed and projected changes, driven by the historical and current patterns in fuel availability and flammability, the nature and interaction of climate changes and their effects on ecosystems, and the role of humans and natural-resource management practices in affecting those trajectories. In particular, changing fire regimes in pose numerous natural resource management challenges. Decision makers in natural-resource management increasingly require information about potential future changes in fire regimes to effectively prepare for and adapt to climate change impacts. An effective forward-looking fire science synthesis is urgently required to reflect the changing dimensions of human fire management, recognizing that fire causes, effects, impacts, and management are all interrelated components of a social-ecological-hydrological system with the potential for profound ecological transformation. To meet this need, we propose to conduct a synthetic research assessment of changing fire dynamics and to relate these changes to natural resource management. Through this project, we will engage a post-doctoral fellow to lead this research, and will conduct an assessment of: 1) the state of the science on how climate change is currently affecting and projected to transform fire processes; 2) how projected changes fit within the context of national patterns and trends; 3) the implications of these changes for natural resource management and climate change adaptation efforts. Products will include one or more peer reviewed manuscript(s) on the regional findings; one or more peer reviewed manuscripts placing these regional findings in a broader national context; and public facing documents and/or communication activities (e.g., webinars) to engage managers with the results of this work.