Near‐future forest vulnerability to drought and fire varies across the western US
Comparisons of observed and simulated historical area burned indicate simulated future fire vulnerability could be underestimated by 3% in the Sierra Nevada and overestimated by 3% in the Rocky Mountains. Projections show that water‐limited forests in the Rocky Mountains, Southwest, and Great Basin regions will be the most vulnerable to future drought‐related mortality, and vulnerability to future fire will be highest in the Sierra Nevada and portions of the Rocky Mountains. High carbon‐density forests in the Pacific coast and western Cascades regions are projected to be the least vulnerable to either drought or fire. Importantly, differences in climate projections lead to only 1% of the domain with conflicting low and high vulnerability to fire and no area with conflicting drought vulnerability. Our drought vulnerability metrics could be incorporated as probabilistic mortality rates in earth system models, enabling more robust estimates of the feedbacks between the land and atmosphere over the 21st century.