Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study of wildfire trends in Northwestern California shows no increase in severity over time

Date:
March 1, 2012
Source:
USDA Forest Service - Pacific Southwest Research Station
Summary:
Even though wildfires have increased in size over time, they haven't necessarily grown in severity nor had corresponding negative impacts to the ecosystem, according to a recent study.

Even though wildfires have increased in size over time, they haven't necessarily grown in severity nor had corresponding negative impacts to the ecosystem, according to a recently published study appearing in the journal Ecological Applications.

Related Articles


A team of scientists from the USDA Forest Service and the University of California, Davis, assessed the size, severity and frequency of wildfires on four national forests -- Klamath, Mendocino, Shasta-Trinity and Six Rivers -- of northwestern California from 1910 to 2008 and their effects on the ecosystem. Fire severity is measured by its impact on resources such as watersheds, wildlife habitat, soils, vegetation and forest products. "High" severity patches within fires are areas where greater than 95 percent of the forest canopy was killed.

The study's key findings include:

  • Despite an increase in total acres burned, there was no trend in the proportion of fires burning at high severity, which indicates that fires have not been getting worse.
  • Most areas burned since 1987 have been at low to moderate severity.
  • The more area burned in a year, the less the proportion that burned at high severity.
  • Lightning-caused fires, which burned at lower severity than human-caused fires, accounted for 87 percent of the 1.6 million acres that burned in northwestern California from 1987 through 2008.
  • Human-caused fires dominated the first half of the 20th century, while lightning-caused fires have dominated the last several decades.

These findings suggest that fires burning under less than extreme fire weather and fuel moisture conditions could be used to attain ecological and management goals since they generally produce less than severe results. In other words, the fires that are easy to put out could actually be used to achieve management goals.

Researchers note that these findings may be unique to the Klamath Mountains where the study was conducted. The steep, rugged mountains in northwestern California present different environmental features compared to the Sierra Nevada where similar studies did show a trend of increasing proportion of high severity over time.

"As we can see from these findings, one size does not fit all when it comes to managing wildfires," says Carl Skinner, PSW geographer, who co-authored the study. "This study has some very important implications for fire and forest management policies. Our results support the idea that wildfires could be managed for ecological benefit in this bioregion."

Further information: http://treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/40143


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by USDA Forest Service - Pacific Southwest Research Station. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

USDA Forest Service - Pacific Southwest Research Station. "Study of wildfire trends in Northwestern California shows no increase in severity over time." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120301103911.htm>.
USDA Forest Service - Pacific Southwest Research Station. (2012, March 1). Study of wildfire trends in Northwestern California shows no increase in severity over time. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120301103911.htm
USDA Forest Service - Pacific Southwest Research Station. "Study of wildfire trends in Northwestern California shows no increase in severity over time." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120301103911.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A rare tornado ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and shattered windows Thursday afternoon in the southwest Washington city of Longview, but there were no reports of injuries. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) Lava from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has accelerated as it travels toward a town called Pahoa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins