Climate influences on future fire severity: Synthesis of climate-fire interactions and impacts

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Increases in fire activity and changes in fire regimes have been documented in recent decades across the western United States. Climate change is expected to continue to exacerbate impacts to forested ecosystems by increasing the frequency, size, and severity of wildfires across the western United States (US). Warming temperatures and shifting precipitation patterns are altering western landscapes and making them more susceptible to high-severity fire. Increases in large patches of high-severity fire can result in significant impacts to landscape processes and ecosystem function and changes to vegetation structure and composition. In this synthesis, we examine the predicted climatic influence on fire regimes and discuss the impacts on fire severity, vegetation dynamics, and the interactions between fire, vegetation, and climate. We describe predicted changes, impacts, and risks related to fire with climate change and discuss how management options may mitigate some impacts of predicted fire severity, and moderate some impacts to forests, carbon, and vegetation changes post fire.

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