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Scientific Journal Article: Warmer and drier fire seasons contribute to increases in area burned

Significant increases in annual area burned at high severity (AABhs) were observed across most ecoregions, with an overall eightfold increase in AABhs across western US forests.




Warmer and drier fire seasons contribute to increases in area burned at high severity in western US forests from 1985 to 2017


Authors: Parks, S. A.; Abatzoglou, J. T.

Publication Year: 2020

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Source: Geophysical Research Letters. 47: e2020GL089858.

DOI: 10.1029/2020GL089858


Increases in burned area across the western United States (US) since the mid‐1980s have been widely documented and linked partially to climate factors, yet evaluations of trends in fire severity are lacking. Here we evaluate fire severity trends and their interannual relationships to climate for western US forests from 1985 to 2017. Significant increases in annual area burned at high severity (AABhs) were observed across most ecoregions, with an overall eightfold increase in AABhs across western US forests. The relationships we identified between the annual fire severity metrics and climate, as well as the observed and projected trend toward warmer and drier fire seasons, suggest that climate change will contribute to increased fire severity in future decades where fuels remain abundant. The growing prevalence of high‐severity fire in western US forests has important implications to forest ecosystems, including an increased probability of fire‐catalyzed conversions from forest to alternative vegetation types.

Parks, S. A.; Abatzoglou, J. T. 2020. Warmer and drier fire seasons contribute to increases in area burned at high severity in western US forests from 1985 to 2017. Geophysical Research Letters. 47: e2020GL089858.



Link to original article: https://www.srs.fs.usda.gov/pubs/61571

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