Changes in canopy fuels and potential fire behavior 1880-2040: Grand Canyon, Arizona
The authors reconstructed fuel and fire behavior variables across an elevation gradient in Grand Canyon forests to estimate the change in canopy fuels since 1880 and to project future canopy fuels and associated potential fire behavior into the near future (2040).
Historically, high wind speeds were required to initiate crown fire behavior across all forest types within the project area. By the year 2000, common windspeeds of 45 km/h were projected to be sufficient to initiate crown fire at most sites due to changes in canopy bulk density. The increase in canopy fuels continuity has already and is expected to lead to broad-scale crown fire instead of a highly mixed pattern of burn severity that was common historically.