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    Author(s): David L. Peterson; Jeremy S. Littell
    Date: 2012
    Source: In: Vose, James M.; Peterson, David L.; Patel-Weynand, Toral, eds. Effects of climatic variability and change on forest ecosystems: a comprehensive science synthesis for the U.S. forest sector. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-870. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 249-252.
    Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: View PDF  (27.57 KB)

    Description

    Wildfire is one of the two most significant disturbance agents (the other being insects) in forest ecosystems of the Western United States, and in a warmer climate, will drive changes in forest composition, structure, and function (Dale et al. 2001, McKenzie et al. 2004). Although wildfire is highly stochastic in space and time, sufficient data exist to establish clear relationships between some fire characteristics and some climatic parameters. An assessment of wildfire risk in response to climate change requires brief definitions of the terms “fire hazard” and “fire risk,” which are often confused in the scientific literature and other applications (Hardy 2005). Fire hazard is the potential for the structure, condition, and arrangement of a fuelbed to affect its flammability and energy release. Fire risk is the probability that a fire will ignite, spread, and potentially affect one or more resources valued by people. The most common means of expressing wildfire risk are (1) frequency, (2) a combination of intensity (energy release) and severity (effects on forests, structures, and other values), and (3) area burned.

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    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.

    Citation

    Peterson, David L.; Littell, Jeremy S. 2012. Appendix 2: Risk-based framework and risk case studies. Risk assessment for wildfire in the Western United States. In: Vose, James M.; Peterson, David L.; Patel-Weynand, Toral, eds. Effects of climatic variability and change on forest ecosystems: a comprehensive science synthesis for the U.S. forest sector. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-870. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 249-252.

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