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    Author(s): David L. Peterson
    Date: 2010
    Source: Northwest Woodlands. 26(2): 16-17/28-29
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (2.04 MB)


    This historical perspective on fire provides a window into the future of fire in the Pacific Northwest. Although fire will always be more common in the interior portion of the region, a warmer climate could bring more fire to the westside of the Cascade Range where summers are typically dry and will probably become drier. If future climate resembles the climate now experienced during the warm phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, then we can expect fire occurrence to be similar to its historical pattern during those warm phases, that is, more area will burn on average. We can also expect longer fire seasons. The typical fire season of July and August will probably stretch into June and September, extending the time during which precautions are needed for fire prevention and fire suppression. The biggest concern for the future will be an increase in extreme weather events, which can lead to conditions that produce large and rapidly spreading wildfire. Average warm conditions are not a big concern. High temperature, low humidity and high wind are the combination of factors that, when coupled with an ignition source and adequate fuels, can produce fires. These rare but extreme weather events win drive changes in fire that we will observe in the future.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Peterson, David L. 2010. Managing fire and fuels in a warmer climate. Northwest Woodlands. 26(2): 16-17/28-29.


    fire management, Pacific Northwest, climate change, forest fuels, fire

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