Discussing the State-of-the-Science on Climate and Wildland Fire: Part 2: Intersection of climate and wildland fire

The Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory will hold a virtual two-part panel discussion on the state-of-the-science regarding climate and wildland fire during the upcoming fall semester of the recurring Fire Lab Seminar Series. Weather is a key driver for wildland fire, both in terms of direct effects (e.g., lightning, wind, and moisture effects on ignition and fire behavior) and indirect effects (e.g., weather drives fuel characteristics and dynamics which govern ignition and fire behavior). Thus, climate science and the information and products generated by the climate science community are inherently important for wildland fire research. A recent article by Dr. Steven E. Koonin with excerpts from his book, “Unsettled: What Climate Science Tells Us, What it Doesn’t, and Why it Matters,” stimulated discussion among fire researchers over the state of climate science as it relates to wildland fire. In an effort to delve deeper into the science, identify gaps in our current understanding, and facilitate a broader discussion on this topic, we have planned a two-part series of panel discussions featuring experts in the fields of climate sciences and wildland fire. The first panel will focus on the state of climate science, including observations, global climate modeling, and regional climate modeling and observations. The second panel will focus on the intersection of climate and wildland fire, including fire occurrence and intensity, post-fire recovery, and fire ecology. Together, the panels will address questions such as: What is the certainty/uncertainty associated with current climate projections? What do climate projections forecast for various regions across the Western US and how confident are we in those projections? What effect is climate change likely to have on fire regimes across the Western US? Will climate change produce more frequent and intense fires in the Western US? The intent is to facilitate scientific discussions that will enhance our understanding of the certainties, uncertainties, and limitations regarding climate science and wildland fire.

Presenter Biographies

Cliff Mass, Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington

Alexandra Syphard, Associate, Conservation Biology Institute

Sean Parks, Research Ecologist, USDA FS Rocky Mountain Research Station