Climate & Fire & Adaptation

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Flocking to fire: How climate and natural hazards shape human migration across the US

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Here, we examine recent (2010–2020) trends in human migration across the US in relation to features of the natural landscape and climate, as well as frequencies of various natural hazards. Controlling for socioeconomic and environmental factors, we found that people have moved away from areas most affected by heat waves and hurricanes, but toward areas most affected by wildfires. This relationship may suggest that, for many, the dangers of wildfires do not yet outweigh the perceived benefits of life in fire-prone areas. We also found that people have been moving toward metropolitan areas with relatively hot summers, a dangerous public health trend if mean and maximum temperatures continue to rise, as projected in most climate scenarios. These results have implications for policymakers and planners as they prepare strategies to mitigate climate change and natural hazards in areas attracting migrants.

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Rethinking risk and responsibility in the western wildfire crisis

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Clearly there is broad consensus that society should manage wildlands to avoid severe wildfire impacts. But how else should a society invest in risk reduction? What are the primary drivers of risk? Where are the dominant impacts we are trying to avoid? What are our primary objectives in managing wildfire? How do we create social change to meet those objectives? These are serious questions that we often get wrong because of our laser focus on public lands forests.

8th International Wildland Fire Conference

8th International Wildland Fire Conference

Conference website.

Better wildland fire governance is needed to protect biodiversity, foster carbon sequestration and healthy forests and assure they are providing goods and services that do not vanish in wildfire smoke.

As Chairman and on behalf of the Organizing Committee of the 8th International Wildland Fire Conference we invite you to come to Portugal with your knowledge, insights, and thoughts. We welcome you to contribute with your institutional or professional case study, your scientific work or your operational success or failure in tackling complexity and uncertainty when governing or managing wildfire risk.

At Porto, you will have a lifetime influencing professional experience, through the opportunity to meet with thousands of people coming from all over the world. We all share similar problems and are deeply committed to work on the solutions.

We will be honored to host you at Porto, to discuss and participate in defining Governance principles towards the development an international framework. We believe that your piece of the puzzle will matter to help your nation and all nations to be better prepared to deal with the challenges ahead of us and to build fire-resilient landscape and societies.

Chairman of the AGIF Board of Directors

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Historical context of Canada wildfire and climate change

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Fundamentals of Canada wildfire and climate change

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Glowing orange forest fire

Climate change and drought mortality increase fuel availability and the carbon cost of forest management

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Rising temperatures and more frequent droughts have resulted in widespread tree mortality, transitioning large amounts of live biomass to snags and coarse woody debris. These dead fuel loads are also drying out earlier and faster with climate change which increases the ease of fuel combustion when fire occurs. This increase in fuel availability has likely contributed to the unprecedented wildfire behavior we have seen in recent years and poses a challenge to the use of prescribed fire in areas with substantial tree mortality. Additionally, dead fuel loading from drought mortality has increased the amount of carbon released during second entry prescribed burns, requiring us to rethink the carbon costs associated with both initial and repeat prescribed burning.

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Forest-assisted migration in the context of climate change adaptation: Examples from the eastern US

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Presenter: Brian Palik

Description: There is increasing momentum to implement conservation and management approaches that adapt forests to climate change so as to sustain ecosystem functions. These range from actions designed to increase the resistance of current composition and structure to negative impacts to those designed to transition forests to substantially different characteristics. A component of many adaptation approaches will likely include assisted migration of future climate-adapted tree species or genotypes. While forest-assisted migration (FAM) has been discussed conceptually and examined experimentally for almost a decade, operationalizing FAM (i.e., routine use in forest conservation and management projects) lags behind the acceptance of the need for climate adaptation. As the vulnerability of forest ecosystems in climate change increases, FAM may need to become an integral management tool to reduce long-term risks to ecosystem function, despite real and perceived barriers for its implementation. In this webinar, we will discuss the concept of operational-scale FAM and why it remains a controversial, not yet widely adopted component of climate adaptation. We will present three case studies of operational-scale FAM to illustrate how the practice can be approached pragmatically within an adaptation framework despite the barriers to acceptance. Finally, we will discuss a path toward advancing the wide use of operational-scale FAM.

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Complexity of biological disturbance agents, fuels heterogeneity, and fire in forests in the western US

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Generally, biological disturbance agents (BDAs) convert aboveground live biomass to dead biomass, decreasing canopy fuels and increasing surface fuels. However, the rate of conversion varies with time-since-event and among BDAs and forest types, resulting in a wide range of effects on the amount of dead fuels at any given time and place, which interacts with the structure and composition of the stand before and subsequent to BDA events. A major influence on fuels may be that BDAs have emerged as dominant agents of forest heterogeneity creation. Because BDAs play complex roles in fuels and fire heterogeneity across the western US which are further complicated by interactions with climate change, drought, and forest management (fire suppression), their impacts on fuels, fire and ecological consequences cannot be categorized simply as positive or negative but need to be evaluated within the context of BDA life histories and ecosystem dynamics.

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The hydrology of western juniper in central Oregon

Webinar recording.

Dr. Carlos Ochoa’s research focuses on connections between ecohydrological processes and human interactions in an ever-changing climate. Dr. Ochoa has numerous research projects, one of which is a long term study in central Oregon that has provided critical information regarding vegetation and hydrology interactions in western juniper dominated landscapes. This presentation will discuss some of the learnings from Dr. Ochoa’s work on western juniper.

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Wildfire: Helping aspen get one stem ahead of a warming climate

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Fire can be a useful tool for promoting migrations of shade-intolerant wind dispersed species such as aspen. Aspen successfully established in burned areas far from seed sources, so managers may choose to focus attention on other species in postburn reforestation.

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