Climate Adaptation Science Centers

Drought, Fire and Extreme Weather

CASC supported scientists throughout the country are working to understand how drought, fire and extreme weather are changing and how they are impacting important natural and cultural resources. Browse our projects below or use our project explorer to explore our science.

Project Explorer: Drought, Fire and Extreme Weather

Filter Total Items: 87
Date published: January 1, 2018
Status: Active

Working with Natural Resource Managers to Co-Produce Drought Analyses in Hawai‘i

The climate in Hawai‘i is changing, and alterations in rainfall amount and distribution have implications for future vegetation cover, non-native species invasions, watershed function, and fire behavior. As novel ecosystems and climates emerge in Hawai‘i, particularly hotter and drier climates, it is critical that scientists produce locally relevant, timely and actionable science products and...

Date published: January 1, 2018
Status: Active

Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Planning for Projected Changes in Water Quality and Quantity for Protected Areas in the Upper Mississippi Watershed

Climate change and the extreme weather associated with it can be a major challenge to landowners and land managers interested in the protection, restoration, recovery, and management of wetlands and wildlife habitats. The Midwest is not only experiencing an increase in average temperatures and precipitation, but also an increase in the frequency of extreme events, such as heat waves and floods...

Date published: January 1, 2018
Status: Active

Understanding Fire-caused Vegetation Type Conversion in Southwestern Conifer Forests under Current and Future Climate Conditions

Fire size, frequency, overall area burned, and severity are increasing across many vegetation types in the southwestern U.S. In many cases, large contiguous areas are burning repeatedly at high severity, triggering vegetation type conversions (VTC), where once-dominant coniferous forests fail to return to their pre-fire state, often transitioning to shrub- or grass-dominated systems. Loss of...

Contacts: Phillip van Mantgem, Rachel Gregg
Date published: January 1, 2018
Status: Active

Preventing Extreme Fire Events by Learning from History: The Effects of Wind, Temperature, and Drought Extremes on Fire Activity

The 2017 fire season in California was highly unusual with its late seasonal timing, the areal extent it burned, and its devastation to communities. These fires were associated with extreme winds and were potentially also influenced by unusually dry conditions during several years leading up to the 2017 events. This fire season brought additional attention and emphasized the vital need for...

Date published: January 1, 2018
Status: Active

Post-Fire Conifer Regeneration Under a Warming Climate: Will Severe Fire Be a Catalyst for Forest Loss?

The Southwest U.S. is experiencing hotter droughts, which are contributing to more frequent, severe wildfires. These droughts also stress vegetation, which can make it more difficult for forests to recover after fire. Forest regeneration in burned areas may be limited because seeds have to travel long distances to recolonize, and when they do arrive, conditions are often unfavorably hot and...

Date published: January 1, 2018
Status: Active

Improving the Success of Post-Fire Adaptive Management Strategies in Sagebrush Steppe

Sagebrush steppe is one of the most widely distributed ecosystems in North America. Found in eleven western states, this important yet fragile ecosystem is dominated by sagebrush, but also contains a diversity of native shrubs, grasses, and flowering plants. It provides critical habitat for wildlife like pronghorn and threatened species such as the greater sage-grouse, and is grazed by...

Date published: January 1, 2018
Status: Active

Improving and Accelerating the Application of Science to Natural Resource Management in California

California - one of the nation's most populous states - hosts extensive public lands, crown-jewel national parks, and diverse natural resources. Resource managers in federal, state, tribal, and local agencies face challenges due to environmental changes and extreme events such as severe droughts, heat waves, flood events, massive wildfires, and forest dieback. However, state-of-the-art...

Date published: January 1, 2018
Status: Active

Identifying Characteristics of Actionable Science for Drought Planning and Adaptation

Changing climate conditions can make water management planning and drought preparedness decisions more complicated than ever before. Resource managers can no longer rely solely on historical data and trends to base their actions, and are in need of science that is relevant to their specific needs and can directly inform important planning decisions. Questions remain, however, regarding the...

Date published: January 1, 2018
Status: Active

Fire Refugia in Old-Growth Forests: Predicting Habitat Persistence to Support Land Management in an Era of Rapid Global Change

Mature, old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest provide critical habitat for threatened and endangered species, including the northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet. Dominated by large Douglas-firs and western hemlocks, these established forests range in age from 200 to 1,000 years old. Yet wildfire activity is increasing across western North America, heightening concerns about severe...

Date published: January 1, 2018
Status: Active

Developing and Testing a Rapid Assessment Method for Understanding Key Social Factors of Ecological Drought Preparedness

Drought is a complex environmental hazard that impacts both ecological and social systems. Accounting for the role of human attitudes, institutions, and societal values in drought planning is important to help identify how various drought durations and severity may differentially affect social resilience to adequately respond to and manage drought impacts. While there have been successful past...

Date published: January 1, 2018
Status: Active

Characterizing Historic Streamflow to Support Drought Planning in the Upper Missouri River Basin

The Missouri River system is the life-blood of the American Midwest, providing critical water resources that drive the region’s agriculture, industry, hydroelectric power generation, and ecosystems. The basin has a long history of development and diversion of water resources, meaning that streamflow records that reflect natural, unmanaged flows over the past century have been rare. As a result...

Date published: January 1, 2018
Status: Active

Big Sagebrush Response to Wildfire and Invasive Grasses in the 21st Century

Big sagebrush plant communities are important and widespread in western North America and are crucial for meeting long-term conservation goals for greater sage-grouse and other wildlife of conservation concern. Yet wildfire is increasing in the West, turning biodiverse, shrub-based ecosystems dominated by sagebrush into grasslands containing invasive species such as cheatgrass and less overall...