Interactions of climate, fire, and management in future forests of the Pacific Northwest
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): M. C. Wimberly; Z. H. Liu
Publication Year: 2014

Cataloging Information

  • carbon
  • carbon storage
  • climate change
  • climate change
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • fire regime
  • fire regimes
  • fire size
  • forest management
  • fragmentation
  • fuel management
  • fuel treatment
  • habitat loss
  • Oregon
  • thinning
  • Washington
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 1, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 53293
Tall Timbers Record Number: 30663
TTRS Location Status: Not in file
TTRS Call Number: Available
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.


A longer, hotter, and drier fire season is projected for the Pacific Northwest under future climate scenarios, and the area burned by wildfires is projected to increase as a result. Fuel treatments are an important management tool in the drier forests of this region where they have been shown to modify fire behavior and fire effects, yet we know relatively little about how treatments will interact with changing climate and expanding human populations to influence fire regimes and ecosystem services over larger area and longer time periods. As a step toward addressing this knowledge gap, this paper synthesizes the recent literature on climate, fire, and forest management in the Pacific Northwest to summarize projected changes and assess how forest management can aid in adapting to future fire regimes and reducing their negative impacts. Increased wildfire under future climates has the potential to affect many ecosystem services, including wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, and water and air quality. Fuel treatments in dry forest types can reduce fire severity and size, and strategically-placed treatments can help to protect both property and natural resources from wildfire. Although increased rates of burning are projected to reduce carbon stocks across the region, research to date suggests that fuel treatments are unlikely to result in significant increases in carbon storage. Prescribed burning combined with thinning has been demonstrated to be effective at reducing fire severity across a variety of dry forest types, but there is uncertainty about whether changing climate and increasing human encroachment into the wildland-urban interface will limit the use of prescribed fire in the future. Most fire research has focused on the dry forest types, and much less is known about the ecological impacts of increased wildfire activity in the moist forests and the potential for adapting to these changes through forest management. To address these knowledge gaps, future research efforts should build on the Pacific Northwest's legacy of integrated regional assessments to incorporate broad-scale climatic drivers with processes operating at the stand and landscape levels, including vegetation succession, fire spread, treatment effects, and the expansion of human populations into wildland areas. An important outcome of this type of research would be the identification of localized 'hot spots' that are most sensitive to future changes, and are where limited resources for fire management should be concentrated. © 2013 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Wimberly, M. C., and Z. H. Liu. 2014. Interactions of climate, fire, and management in future forests of the Pacific Northwest. Forest Ecology and Management, v. 327, p. 270-279. 10.1016/j.foreco,2013.09.043.