Publications

Climate change vulnerabilities and adaptation options for forest vegetation management in the northwestern USA

Citation

Halofsky, J.E. and D.L. Peterson. 2016. Climate change vulnerabilities and adaptation options for forest vegetation management in the northwestern USA. Atmosphere 7,46. doi:10.3390/atmos7030046.


Abstract

Recent vulnerability assessments, conducted in diverse regions in the northwestern United States, indicate that many commonalities exist with respect to projected vulnerabilities to climate change. Dry forests are projected to have significant changes in distribution and abundance of species, partially in response to higher temperature and lower soil moisture, but mostly in response to projected increases in extreme events and disturbances—drought, wildfire, and insect outbreaks. Wildfire and mountain pine beetles have caused extensive mortality across millions of hectares in this region during the past decade, and wildfire area burned is projected to increase 200%–300% by mid-21st century. Science–management partnerships associated with recent assessments have identified an extensive list of adaptation options, including both strategies (general planning) and tactics (on-the-ground projects). Most of the options focus on increasing resilience to disturbances and on reducing current stressors to resource conditions. Adaptation options are generally similar across the biogeographically diverse region covered by assessments, suggesting that there may be a limit on the number of feasible responses to climate change. Federal agencies in the northwestern United States are now using these assessments and adaptation approaches to inform sustainable resource management and planning, mostly through fine tuning of existing practices and policies.