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Natural Resource Conservation

Climate Change Induced Wildfire Hazard Analysis


Andrew Beavers, Wildland Fire Program Manager, Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands, Colorado State University:


It is already well established that climate change will affect fire frequency, size, and severity in a variety of ways and to a variety of degrees throughout the U.S. Extensive adjustments to wildland fire management will be necessary at many military installations to remain compliant with regulations, laws, and INRMP goals and objectives. This will require a reasonably detailed understanding of the future fire regime. Existing analyses that describe projected changes in wildfire are almost always at large scales, describe broad changes, and as a result are often not specific enough to be useful at the installation scale.

We developed a method to temporally downscale global climate model data from once daily readings to hourly readings, allowing projected climate data to be utilized in existing fire behavior and fire danger software. This process allows us to characterize the current fire environment (2010 – 2019) and compare it directly to the future fire environment (2045 – 2054) using tools and outputting metrics that Wildland Fire Managers are already comfortable with because they use them routinely. The analyses enabled by this process can compare any existing, standard metric of fire behavior or fire danger (e.g., flame length, Energy Release Component, probability of crown fire, drought indices, etc.) between current day and future climate conditions. Other analyses of use include comparing the probability of exceeding local thresholds of interest (e.g., wind speed, fine fuel moisture, days without rain, etc., or combinations thereof). This data can be produced for any fire behavior or fire danger fuel model, allowing assessment of the potential for change within any vegetation type of interest.

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