Climate & Fire & Adaptation
This report describes the framework of how fire and climate change work together to affect forest and fish communities. Learning how to adapt will come from testing, probing, and pushing that framework and then proposing new ideas. The western U.S. defies generalizations, and much learning must necessarily be local in implication. This report serves as a scaffold for that learning. It comprises three primary chapters on physical processes, biological interactions, and management decisions, accompanied by a special section with separately authored papers addressing interactions of fish populations with wildfire.
This technical report reviews existing climate models that predict species and vegetation changes in the western United States, and it synthesizes knowledge about climate change impacts on the native fauna and flora of grasslands, shrublands and deserts of the interior American West. Species’ responses will depend not only on their physiological tolerances but also on their phenology, establishment properties, biotic interactions, and capacity to evolve and migrate.
This paper reviews the nature and characteristics of bark beetle-altered fuel complexes in the conifer forests of the Interior West and the challenges of understanding the effects on extreme fire behavior, including the initiation and spread of crown fires. We also discuss how emerging fire management plans in the U.S. have begun to integrate wildfire management and other forest health objectives with the specific goal of achieving biodiversity and ecosystem resiliency while simultaneously reducing the existence of hazardous fuel complexes.
This paper reports the effects of the most common forest fuel reduction treatments on carbon pools composed of live and dead biomass as well as potential wildfire emissions from six different sites in four western U.S. states. Research suggests most of the benefits of increased fire resistance can be achieved with relatively small reductions in current carbon stocks. Retaining or growing larger trees also reduced the vulnerability of carbon loss from wildfire. In addition, modeled vulnerabilities to carbon losses and median forest product life spans varied considerably across our study sites, which could be used to help prioritize treatment implementation.
This guidebook focuses on the use of weather and climate information in the Ecologically-Based Invasive Plant Management Framework in planning and post-management treatment evaluation. It provides land managers with resources for finding weather and climate data, and tools for incorporating this data into adaptive management planning for rangeland restoration.
This review discusses how climate change may modify invasive species and the tools used to manage them. The understanding of how and in what direction climate change will drive such changes is insufficient to adequately predict and respond. However, climate-induced changes are likely to be complex and will need to be examined on a case by case basis until more generalized frameworks can be developed. This review will help guide development of important research questions, the answers to which will better position us to devise and apply meaningful management options to address invasive species in both present and future climates.
This guidebook contains science-based principles, processes, and tools necessary to assist with developing adaptation options for national forest lands. Because management objectives and sensitivity of resources to climate change differ among national forests, appropriate processes and tools for developing adaptation options may also differ. Regardless of specific processes and tools, the following steps are recommended: (1) become aware of basic climate change science and integrate that understanding with knowledge of local resource conditions and issues (review), (2) evaluate sensitivity of specific natural resources to climate change (rank), (3) develop and implement strategic and tactical options for adapting resources to climate change (resolve), and (4) monitor the effectiveness of adaptation options (observe) and adjust management as needed.
This synthesis includes 9 chapters covering: the current status of climate change science; the importance of fire regimes for understanding climate change impacts; the interrelationships among ecosystems, climate and fuels; the importance of understanding variability, change, scale and pattern for interpreting climate-fire interaction; fire history and climate change from an ecosystem perspective; scientific progress we can expect in the upcoming decade; some recommendations for managers for using fire history to inform their decision making under 21st Century climate change, and concluding thoughts.
This paper predicts moderately more frequent drought for the Great Basin with climate change.