Regional relationships between climate and wildfire-burned area in the Interior West, USA
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Brandon M. Collins; Philip N. Omi; Phillip L. Chapman
Publication Year: 2006

Cataloging Information

  • AMO - Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation
  • Arizona
  • burned area
  • Colorado
  • combustion
  • drought
  • ENSO - El Nino Southern Oscillation
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • fire size
  • forest management
  • fuel moisture
  • heat
  • Idaho
  • moisture
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • PDO - Pacific Decadal Oscillation
  • PDSI - Palmer Drought Severity Index
  • statistical analysis
  • Utah
  • wildfires
  • Wyoming
Partner Site(s):
  • Southwest FireCLIME
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: February 29, 2020
FRAMES Record Number: 44507
Tall Timbers Record Number: 19881
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Journals-C
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, 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.

Annotated Bibliography

This document is part of the Southwest FireCLIME Annotated Bibliography, which includes published research related to the interactions between climate change, wildfire, and subsequent ecosystem effects in the southwestern U.S. The publications contained in the Bibliography have each been summarized to distill the outcomes as they pertain to fire and climate. Go to this document's record in the Southwest FireCLIME Annotated Bibliography.


Recent studies have linked the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) with drought occurrence in the interior United States. This study evaluates the influence of AM0 and PDO phases on interannual relationships between climate and wildfire-burned area during the 20th century. Palmer's Drought Severity Index (PDSI) is strongly related to burned area at both regional and subregional scales. In the southern Interior West, PDSI is most strongly related to yearly burned area during warm-phase AMO, while for the same period no significant relationships exist between PDSI and burned area in the central Interior West. During cool-phase PDO, interannual climate has little influence on burned area in either the northern or the central Interior West. The opposite is true for the southern Interior West and the eastern slope of the Colorado Rockies using the Southern Oscillation Index and PDSI, respectively. The western slope of the Colorado Rockies is the only climate division or region in which burned area is not related to preceding PDSI. During warm-phase PDO, current PDSI explains 67% of the interannual variance in burned area on the western slope. These regional and temporal differences are most likely governed by variations in fuel dynamics associated with dominant regional and subregional vegetation types.

Online Link(s):
Collins, Brandon M.; Omi, Philip N.; Chapman, Phillip L. 2006. Regional relationships between climate and wildfire-burned area in the Interior West, USA. Canadian Journal of Forest Research 36(3):699-709.