Funded Research Projects: FOREST ECOLOGY

Changing Wildfire, Changing Forests: A Synthesis on the Effects of Climate Change on Fire Regimes and Vegetation in the Pacific Northwest

Research Sponsored By: USDI US Geological Survey
Principal Investigator: Brian Harvey
Project Description
As the dominant force that sets the structure and function of most Pacific Northwest forests, fire is likely to be the major catalyst of forest ecosystem change in a warming climate. To inform their actions, resource managers need information about how climate change will affect fire regimes, and vegetation composition, structure, and function. To address this need, we will develop a state-of-the-science synthesis on potential effects of changing climate and fire regimes on forest vegetation in the Pacific Northwest. We will compile all relevant information on potential changes in forest vegetation patterns and fire regimes with changing climate in the region, including long-term paleoecological studies of climate and species distribution, fire history studies, empirical (and field-based) studies on trends in vegetation and fire associated with recent climatic variability and change, impact model projections, and recent syntheses focused on potential climate change effects. All information will be evaluated for scientific integrity and applicability and summarized for six major forest types in the region. The final report will include a synthesis of the highest quality, relevant scientific literature, interpretation of scientific information and projections of near-term and long-term effects of changing fire regimes on forests in the region, demonstration of key trends through illustrative case studies, and recommendations for future research to inform forest management. To disseminate key findings of the report to a general audience, we will develop a fact sheet with highlights from the report and a Story Map with summaries from the report and relevant geospatial information. We will also produce a peer-reviewed journal article based on the findings of the technical report.