Wednesday, 19 November 2003: 8:30 AM
The impacts of climate on prescribed fire
Prescribed fire is generally considered a useful tool in ecosystem restoration and hazardous fuels reduction. There are many variables associated with the decision process and level of control managers can assert over prescribed burning (e.g., risk, safety, contingency, communications, etc.). The chief variable that burn bosses cannot control is the atmosphere - climate and weather. Informal discussions with burn bosses, planning personnel, and Fire Management Officers across the country for five federal agencies and several state and private entities have begun to reveal how climate impacts prescribed burning, and help identify what tools and technologies are being used to better predict burning windows and fire behavior on burns. Five major aspects of prescribed burning were determined to affect prescribed burning, and these aspects were weighted differently across five regions of the country. Trends indicated that burn bosses and on-the-ground personnel often do not utilize the full range of climate information available to them, and there are numerous gaps in the information coverage. This paper discusses the impacts, both real and potential, of climate on prescribed fire. Several recommendations are made to improve the understanding of climate impacts on prescribed burns and increase the opportunities for prescribed burning.