Document


Title

Climate and wildfire in the western United States
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Anthony L. Westerling; Alexander Gershunov; Tim J. Brown; Daniel R. Cayan; Michael D. Dettinger
Publication Year: 2003

Cataloging Information

Keyword(s):
  • PDSI - Palmer Drought Severity Index
Partner Site(s):
  • Southwest FireCLIME
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 11, 2020
FRAMES Record Number: 7966


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.

Description

A 21-yr gridded monthly fire-starts and acres-burned dataset from U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, and Bureau of Indian Affairs fire reports recreates the seasonality and interannual variability of wildfire in the western United States. Despite pervasive human influence in western fire regimes, it is striking how strongly these data reveal a fire season responding to variations in climate. Correlating anomalous wildfire frequency and extent with the Palmer Drought Severity Index illustrates the importance of prior and accumulated precipitation anomalies for future wildfire season severity. This link to antecedent seasons' moisture conditions varies widely with differences in predominant fuel type. Furthermore, these data demonstrate that the relationship between wildfire season severity and observed moisture anomalies from antecedent seasons is strong enough to forecast fire season severity at lead times of one season to a year in advance.

Online Link(s):
Citation:
Westerling, Anthony L.; Brown, Timothy J.; Gershunov, Alexander; Cayan, Daniel R.; Dettinger, M.D. 2003. Climate and wildfire in the western United States. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 84(5):595-604.