Fire management, fuels, and climate change tipping points
Time: 2-3pm MDT / 1-2pm PDT
Hosts: Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center, Joint Fire Science Program, and International Association of Wildland Fire
Presenter: Bob Keane, RMRS Missoula Fire Lab
Description: There will be dramatic changes to most landscapes of the western US over the next century, such as shifts in vegetation communities, changes in fire regimes, and increases in smoke emissions. These changes will result from complex interactions among vegetation, fuels, fire, and altered climate at the finest scales causing new and unanticipated landscape behaviors that will ultimately influence how lands are managed in the future. Fuel treatments may mitigate fire severity, reduce fire intensity, reduce smoke emissions, and facilitate post-fire vegetation recovery, but will they be effective in the future? And more importantly, at what level of climate change will we experience major shifts in landscape composition and structure – the climate change “tipping point”? We used the fine scale landscape model FireBGCv2 to simulate climate, vegetation, and fire interactions and their subsequent effects on fire and emissions on landscapes in the western US in a simulation experiment where temperature and precipitation were systematically offset to simulate possible climate change scenarios. We found that wildland fire drove major tipping points on the landscapes and that these tipping points varied by landscape.