Forest fire and climate change in western North America: insights from sediment charcoal records
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Daniel G. Gavin; Douglas J. Hallett; Feng Sheng Hu; Kenneth P. Lertzman; Susan J. Prichard; Kendrick J. Brown; Jason A. Lynch; Patrick J. Bartlein; David L. Peterson
Publication Year: 2007

Cataloging Information

  • boreal forests
  • British Columbia
  • Canada
  • charcoal
  • climate change
  • climatology
  • coniferous forests
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • FERA - Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team
  • fire frequency
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • fire regimes
  • fire size
  • forest management
  • fuel loading
  • histories
  • Holocene fire
  • lakes
  • mortality
  • overstory
  • paleoecology
  • rainforests
  • sediment charcoal
  • sedimentation
  • soil management
  • soils
  • stand characteristics
  • vegetation surveys
  • Washington
  • wildfires
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 4109
Tall Timbers Record Number: 24140
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File
TTRS Abstract Status: Okay, Fair use, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Millennial-scale records of forest fire provide important baseline information for ecosystem management, especially in regions with too few recent fires to describe the historical range of variability. Charcoal records from lake sediments and soil profiles are well suited for reconstructing the incidence of past fire and its relationship to changing climate and vegetation. We highlight several records from western North America and their relevance in reconstructing historical forest dynamics, fire-climate relationships, and feedbacks between vegetation and fire under climate change. Climatic effects on fire regimes are evident in many regions, but comparisons of paleo-fire records sometimes show a lack of synchrony, indicating that local factors substantially affect fire occurrence, even over long periods. Furthermore, the specific impacts of vegetation change on fire regimes vary among regions with different vegetation histories. By documenting the effects on fire patterns of major changes in climate and vegetation, paleo-fire records can be used to test the mechanistic models required for the prediction of future variations in fire.

Online Link(s):
Gavin, Daniel G.; Hallett, Doutlas J.; Hu, Feng Sheng; Lertzman, Kenneth P.; Prichard, Susan J.; Brown, Kendrick J.; Lynch, Jason A.; Bartlein, Patrick; Peterson, David L. 2007. Forest fire and climate change in western North America: insights from sediment charcoal records. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 5(9):499-506.