Fire and Drought


Littell, J.S., D.L. Peterson, K.L. Riley, Y.Q. Liu, and C.H. Luce. 2016. Fire and Drought. pages 135-150 in Vose, J.M., J.S. Clark, C.H. Luce, and T. Patel-Weynand. Effects of Drought on Forests and Rangelands in the United States: A Comprehensive Science Synthesis. United States Forest Service General Technical ReportĀ Gen. Tech. Report WO-93b.


Rapid climate change and shifts in disturbance regimes may cause significant changes in productivity and capacity for carbon storage in forests and rangelands of the United States. As the climate warms, it is expected that more ecosystems will become water limited, more sensitive to variability in temperatures, and prone to more frequent disturbance. Consequently, productivity may decline across much of the West, and long-term carbon sequestration may be limited by a continuous mosaic of disturbances of various severities. Species and ecosystems will be affected in various ways and not all undesirable changes will be preventable by management intervention. Given that expected physical and hydrologic changes in drought can be quantified, the authors present projections for two fire-related drought indicators, and later discuss the management and social implications of these projections.