Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub
    Author(s): Sebastian Martinuzzi; Andrew J. Allstadt; Anna M. Pidgeon; Curtis H. Flather; William M. Jolly; Volker C. Radeloff
    Date: 2019
    Source: Ecological Applications. 29(5): e01904.
    Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
    Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (1.0 MB)


    Public lands provide many ecosystem services and support diverse plant and animal communities. In order to provide these benefits in the future, land managers and policy makers need information about future climate change and its potential effects. In particular, weather extremes are key drivers of wildfires, droughts, and false springs, which in turn can have large impacts on ecosystems. However, information on future changes in weather extremes on public lands is lacking. Our goal was to compare historical (1950-2005) and projected mid-century (2041-2070) changes in weather extremes (fire weather, spring droughts, and false springs) on public lands. This case study looked at the lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service across the conterminous United States including 501 ranger district units. We analyzed downscaled projections of daily records from 19 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project 5 General Circulation Models for two climate scenarios, with either medium-low or high CO2- equivalent concentration (RCPs 4.5 and 8.5). For each ranger district, we estimated: (1) fire potential, using the Keetch-Byram Drought Index; (2) frequency of spring droughts, using the Standardized Precipitation Index; and (3) frequency of false springs, using the extended Spring Indices. We found that future climates could substantially alter weather conditions across Forest Service lands. Under the two climate scenarios, increases in wildfire potential, spring droughts, and false springs were projected in 32-72%, 28-29%, and 13-16% of all ranger districts, respectively. Moreover, a substantial number of ranger districts (17-30%), especially in the Southwestern, Pacific Southwest, and Rocky Mountain regions, were projected to see increases in more than one type of weather extreme, which may require special management attention. We suggest that future changes in weather extremes could threaten the ability of public lands to provide ecosystem services and ecological benefits to society. Overall, our results highlight the value of spatially-explicit weather projections to assess future changes in key weather extremes for land managers and policy makers.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • 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.


    Martinuzzi, Sebastian; Allstadt, Andrew J.; Pidgeon, Anna M.; Flather, Curtis H.; Jolly, William M.; Radeloff, Volker C. 2019. Future changes in fire weather, spring droughts, and false springs across U.S. National Forests and Grasslands. Ecological Applications. 29(5): e01904.


    Google Scholar


    climate change, conservation planning, disturbances, droughts, extreme weather, fires, forest management, National Forests and Grasslands, public lands

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page