Long-term relations among fire, fuel, and climate in the northwestern US based on lake-sediment studies
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): C. Whitlock; J. Marlon; C. Briles; A. Brunelle; C. Long; P. Bartlein
Publication Year: 2008

Cataloging Information

  • Abies concolor
  • Alnus rubra
  • biomass
  • charcoal
  • charcoal data
  • coniferous forests
  • droughts
  • fire frequency
  • fire management
  • fire regimes
  • forest management
  • fuel accumulation
  • histories
  • Holocene
  • Idaho
  • Lithocarpus densiflorus
  • moisture
  • Montana
  • mountains
  • Oregon
  • paleoecology
  • Picea sitchensis
  • Pinus ponderosa
  • pollen
  • pollen data
  • Pseudotsuga menziesii
  • Quercus garryana
  • Quercus kelloggii
  • Thuja plicata
  • topography
  • Tsuga heterophylla
  • vegetation surveys
  • western United States
  • wildfires
  • Wyoming
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 46519
Tall Timbers Record Number: 22271
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Journals-I
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.


Pollen and high-resolution charcoal records from the north-western USA provide an opportunity to examine the linkages among fire, climate, and fuels on multiple temporal and spatial scales. The data suggest that general charcoal levels were low in the late-glacial period and increased steadily through the last 11 000 years with increasing fuel biomass. At local scales, fire occurrence is governed by the interaction of site controls, including vegetation, local climate and fire weather, and topography. At subregional scales, patterns in the long term fire-episode frequency data are apparent: The Coast Range had relatively few fires in the Holocene, whereas the Klamath-Siskiyou region experienced frequent fire episodes. Fire regimes in the northern Rocky Mountains have been strongly governed by millennial- and centennial-scale climate variability and regional differences in summer moisture. At regional scales, sites in present-day summer-dry areas show a period of protracted high fire activity within the early Holocene that is attributed to intensified summer drought in the summer-dry region. Sites in summer-wet areas show the opposite pattern, that fire was lower in frequency than present in the early Holocene as result of strengthened monsoonal circulation then. Higher fire-episode frequency at many sites in the last 2000 years is attributed to greater drought during the Medieval Climate Anomaly and possibly anthropogenic burning. The association between drought, increased fire occurrence, and available fuels evident on several time scales suggests that long-term fire history patterns should be considered in current assessments of historical fire regimes and fuel conditions. © IAWF 2008. Reproduced from the International Journal of Wildland Fire (Cathy Whitlock, et al., 2008) with the kind permission of CSIRO PUBLISHING on behalf of the International Association of Wildland Fire.

Online Link(s):
Whitlock, C., J. Marlon, C. Briles, A. Brunelle, C. Long, and P. Bartlein. 2008. Long-term relations among fire, fuel, and climate in the north-western US based on lake-sediment studies. International Journal of Wildland Fire, v. 17, no. 1, p. 72-83. 10.1071/.