Fire-climate interactions are complex and mediated by climate effects on vegetation productivity and resulting fuel loads, fuel conditions, and environmental conditions at the time and place of ignition. As part of a larger Joint Fire Sciences Project (JFSP), RMRS scientist, Megan Friggens, developed a vulnerability assessment tool based on the current scientific understanding of fire-landscape interactions. The resulting FireCLIME Vulnerability Assessment (VA) tool scores ecosystems based on current and future expected climate-fire-vegetation relationships as they relate to user inputs about desired future conditions. This tool provides inference on the mechanisms driving vulnerability and which management strategies may be most effective for reducing risk under changing climate conditions. By identifying which fire regime and ecosystem components are most likely to be affected by climate, and which treatments are able to mitigate impacts, the FireCLIME VA can provide information critical for planning under changing fire regimes and fuel conditions. Over the last year, RMRS scientists and collaborators have used the FireCLIME tool to assess landscapes in three different National Forests: The Jemez and Lincoln NF in New Mexico and the Bighorn NF in Colorado. Two of these assessments were co-produced with National Forest staff in an effort to provide training and tailor the results of the assessment to the specific needs of each National Forest.
For those who wish to conduct their own assessment using the FireCLIME (Fire-Climate Landscape Interactions in Montane Ecosystems) Vulnerability Assessment tool: