Published In

Landscape Ecology

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

7-2017

Subjects

Forest fires -- West (U.S.) -- Prevention and control, Forest fires -- Effect of climate change on, Wildfires -- Lake Tahoe Basin, Forest fires -- Simulation modelling, Carbon sequestration, Forest management -- Environmental aspects

Abstract

Context: Forest landscapes are increasingly managed for fire resilience, particularly in the western US which has recently experienced drought and widespread, high-severity wildfires. Fuel reduction treatments have been effective where fires coincide with treated areas. Fuel treatments also have the potential to reduce drought-mortality if tree density is uncharacteristically high, and to increase long-term carbon storage by reducing high-severity fire probability.

Objective: Assess whether fuel treatments reduce fire intensity and spread and increase carbon storage under climate change.

Methods: We used a simulation modeling approach that couples a landscape model of forest disturbance and succession with an ecosystem model of carbon dynamics (Century), to quantify the interacting effects of climate change, fuel treatments and wildfire for carbon storage potential in a mixed-conifer forest in the western USA.

Results: Our results suggest that fuel treatments have the potential to ‘bend the C curve’, maintaining carbon resilience despite climate change and climate-related changes to the fire regime. Simulated fuel treatments resulted in reduced fire spread and severity. There was partial compensation of C lost during fuel treatments with increased growth of residual stock due to greater available soil water, as well as a shift in species composition to more drought- and fire-tolerant Pinus jeffreyi at the expense of shade-tolerant, fire-susceptible Abies concolor.

Conclusions: Forest resilience to global change can be achieved through management that reduces drought stress and supports the establishment and dominance of tree species that are more fire- and drought-resistant, however, achieving a net C gain from fuel treatments may take decades.

Description

This work was authored as part of the Contributor's official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government. In accordance with 17 U.S.C. 105, no copyright protection is available for such works under U.S. Law.

Originally appeared in Landscape Ecology, vol. 32, no. 7, published by Springer. Available at https://link.springer.com/journal/10980.

DOI: 10.1007/s10980-016-0447-x

DOI

10.1007/s10980-016-0447-x

Persistent Identifier

http://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/20898