Eighth Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology


Impact of Climate Change on Fire Danger across the Western United States

John T. Abatzoglou, DRI, Reno, NV; and C. A. Kolden and T. J. Brown

Over the past three decades, the size and number of number of large wildfires have dramatically increased across the western United States. Anecdotal and analytical evidence suggests that fire danger and fire behavior have been unprecedented in recent years, therein contributing to the significant increase in wildland fire acres burned in recent years. Here, the impact of projected climate change on fire danger is examined across the western U.S. Projected changes in fire danger are assessed through a multimodel approach that uses daily meteorological fields downscaled using a bias-corrected constructed analogs approach. For a middle of the road climate change scenario results suggests an advance in the onset of fire season and an increase in the length and frequency of extreme fire danger conditions across much of the interior West. Such chronic and west-wide synchronous heightened wildfire potential is likely to tax fire suppression resources and reduce their efficacy, therein resulting in increased large catastrophic wildfires.

Session 4A, Climate Change Impacts
Tuesday, 13 October 2009, 3:30 PM-5:00 PM, Lake McDonald/ Swift Current/ Hanging Gardens

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