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The Vulnerability of Forests to Climate Change and Wildfire in the Southwestern U.S.

Climate Change Vulnerabilities and Adaptation Strategies to Wildfire in the Southwestern U.S.

Dates

Start Date
2012-11-01
End Date
2015-10-31
Release Date
2012

Summary

Fire in the western U.S. poses one of the greatest threats to human and ecological communities alike. In fact, fire management is the largest single expenditure of land management funds on federal lands. Now, climate change is altering wildfire patterns. Climate change in the West is creating warmer and drier conditions, resulting in an increase in the amount of dead vegetation available to fuel fires. This project sought to assess the vulnerability of forests in the southwestern U.S. to climate change and wildfire, in order to understand how these ecosystems might become altered as a result. Researchers (a) examined how climate change impacts wildfires in the region, to better understand fire risk; (b) identified where and when [...]

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Fire_AZ_USFS.jpg
“Arizona fire - Credit: USFS”
thumbnail 1.11 MB

Purpose

Differing, often negative, responses to wildfire occur in plant communities in the southwestern U.S. under stress caused by climate change. This project aims to create a climate, fire, and vegetation vulnerability assessment for forests and woodlands in the Southwest to assist in strategic land management decision-making. This study will analyze the impact of climate change on wildfires, and assess where and when plant communities are predicted to exhibit stress as a consequence of unusual climatic conditions. Understanding fire behavior probabilities and forest vulnerabilities will provide decision support for the deployment of fuels management (prescribed fire and mechanical fuels reduction), as well as for appropriate management responses to wildfire events. Moreover, an understanding of how vegetation is likely to change with climate will allow proactive land management decisions to guide forested ecosystems toward stable, functioning future states.

Project Extension

projectStatusCompleted

Budget Extension

annualBudgets
year2012
totalFunds149760.74
totalFunds149760.74

Additional Information

Expando Extension

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themes
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nameStakeholder Information Needs
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nameFiscal Year 13 Project Priorities
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nameFiscal Year 14 Project Priorities
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number4
nameSW CSC Research Theme
options
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number5
nameTraditional Ecological Knowledge
options
nameSouthwest CSC Agenda
descriptionSouthwest CSC Agenda

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