Climate Research and Development Program

Fire

Fire historically has played a critical role in shaping and maintaining ecosystems, and its management is of critical importance to society. The Climate R&D Program conducts research nationally to document the history, causes, and impacts of wildfire over decades to millennia. This research is supporting development of sustainable fire management strategies by managers and policy makers.

Filter Total Items: 9
Date published: January 25, 2021
Status: Active

Arctic Biogeochemical Response to Permafrost Thaw (ABRUPT)

Warming and thawing of permafrost soils in the Arctic is expected to become widespread over the coming decades.  Permafrost thaw changes ecosystem structure and function, affects resource availability for wildlife and society, and decreases ground stability which affects human infrastructure. Since permafrost soils contain about half of the global soil carbon (C) pool, the magnitude of C...

Date published: December 2, 2020
Status: Active

Understanding long-term drivers of vegetation change and stability in the Southern Rocky Mountains with paleoecological data and ecological models

Drought and fire are powerful disturbance agents that can trigger rapid and lasting changes in the forests of western North America. Over the last decade, increases in fire size and severity coincided with warming, drought, and earlier snowmelt, factors that projected climatic changes are likely to exacerbate. However, recent observations are brief relative to the lifespans of trees and...

Date published: March 25, 2020
Status: Active

Past Perspectives of Water in the West

In the intermountain west, seasonal precipitation extremes, combined with population growth, are creating new challenges for the management of water resources, ecosystems, and geologic hazards. This research contributes a comprehensive long-term context for a deeper understanding of past hydrologic variability, including the magnitude and frequency of drought and flood extremes and ecosystem...

Date published: October 23, 2019
Status: Active

Drivers and Impacts of North Pacific Climate Variability

Climate model forecasts indicate an increase in extreme hydrologic events, including floods and droughts, for California and the western U.S. in the future. To better understand what the consequences of this future change in climate may be, USGS scientists are studying the frequency, magnitude, and impacts of past hydroclimate variability and extremes in the region. This project produces well-...

Date published: April 15, 2019
Status: Active

Effects of disturbance and drought on the forests and hydrology of the Southern Rocky Mountains

Climate-related forest disturbances, particularly drought-induced tree mortality and large, high-severity fires from increasingly warm and dry conditions, are altering forest ecosystems and the ecosystem services society depends on (e.g., water supplies).  Our research combines long-term place-based ecological data, diverse methods (e.g., paleo, remote-sensing), and networking approaches to...

Date published: April 13, 2019
Status: Active

Forest health and drought response

Forests provide society with economically important and often irreplaceable goods and services, such as wood products, carbon sequestration, clean water, biodiversity, and recreational opportunities.  Yet hotter droughts (droughts in which unusually high temperatures exacerbate the effects of low precipitation) are projected to increase in frequency and intensity in coming decades, potentially...

Date published: December 13, 2018
Status: Active

Connections between Forested and Urban Landscapes and Implications for Water Supply

Interactions between forested and urban landscapes can lead to reciprocal effects that have substantial impacts on water supply and ecology. Air pollution from urban and forested landscapes can be deposited on adjacent forests, while forest disturbance, such as wildfires and floods, can remobilize those contaminants. Additionally, pollutants from legacy land use (e.g., mining) can also be...

Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Completed

Holocene Hydroclimate of Western North America

The objectives of this project are to reconstruct detailed histories of Holocene hydroclimate and corresponding environmental change from geological archives such as lake sediment, peat, and wood to more fully understand past, ongoing, and future change and its impacts.

Date published: July 14, 2017
Status: Active

Terrestrial Records of Holocene Climate Change: Fire, climate and humans

Large wildfires have raged across the western Americas in the past decade including the Las Conchas, New Mexico fire that burned 44,000 acres in a single day in 2011 (Orem and Pelletier, 2015, Geomorphology 232: 224-238, and references therein), the 2016 Fort McMurray, Alberta fire that required evacuating an entire city, and the 2015 Alaskan fire season that burned more than 5 million acres (...