Fire’s Role in a Broadleaf Future for Alaska?

As climate warming brings more wildfire to the North, scientists and citizens wonder how the landscape will be transformed.  Will forests continue their 2000’s-era trend toward less spruce and more hardwoods, catalyzed by larger fires and more frequent burning?  If so, that might slow down the trend for larger and more intense fires. However, will hotter summers with more effective drying lead to increased fire re-entry into the early successional hardwoods, making them less strategic barriers for fire protection? A research team modeling the former question just unveiled an interactive web tool to model forest changes under various future climate scenarios (Feb. 1 webinar recording available HERE).  With the new web tool, funded by JFSP,  Paul Duffy and Courtney Schultz will be working with fire managers in Alaska to look at fire occurrence and cost in the future.  Try it for yourself at

Photo by USFS, PNW (2004).

As for the second question–will it be harder for hardwoods to resist fire–a recent paper in Ecosphere (Barrett et al. 2016) is one of the first published studies to look for an answer.  AFSC highlights that work with a Research Brief this month: A Deeper Look at Drivers of Fire Activity, Re-burns, and Unburned Patches in Alaska’s Boreal Forest.  Check out all our Research Briefs in our web Library.

Citation: Barrett, K, T. Loboda, AD McGuire, H. Genet, E. Hoy, and E. Kasischke. 2016. Static and dynamic controls on fire activity at moderate spatial and temporal scales in the Alaskan boreal forest. Ecosphere 7(11):e01572. 10.1002/ecs2.1572

Fuel Treatments Aid 2015 Firefighting Efforts in Alaska

A new report by USFWS Kenai Refuge fire staff (Nate Perrine) examines


areas where the 2015 Card Street fire intersected completed fuels treatments. He utilized IFTDSS (Interagency Fuels Treatment Decision Support System) modeling to analyze the treatment effect on fire behavior, and also documented post fire effects within the treated areas. This well-illustrated discussion includes recommendations for future treatments and analyses–a must-read for fire fuels specialists in Alaska! Click below to download a pdf.

The Effects and Use of Fuel Treatments during the Card Street Fire

Webinar Recording Available– 2013 Alaska Fire Modeling Lessons Learned

Lisa Saperstein, USFWS, Brian Sorbel, NPS, and Robert Ziel, DOFFireModelingLessons

Wed, March 5, 10:00 am. Visit our Vimeo page to view all our recorded webinars or find the recording <HERE>.

Organized by the Alaska Fire Modeling and Analysis Committee, this webinar employed an expert panel to look back at some of the modeling work that occurred in 2013, specifically focused on lessons learned that can be carried forward into 2014.  Some important points covered–what’s the difference between fire modeling in FSPro vs. Canadian BEHAVE system; how to tweak landscape cover and crown fire models to get reasonable results; using auxiliary information like Google Earth, Landsat imagery, and MODIS hotspots to inform your run.  Don’t forget, there is a manual–available on the FMAC page above!: FSPro Analysis in Alaska: A Users Guide

(Image: 7 day fire spread probability of Lime Hills fire, June 24, 2013, and June 30 perimeter (black line). Courtesy Lisa Saperstein.)

Webinar Summary: What do Forest Fires, Caribou, and Monster Truck Tires have in Common? by Matt Nolan

Dr. Matt  Nolan shared results from his recent airborne photogrammetry campaigns in Alaska, and related them to possible fire and forest management applications in a webinar on February 25, 2014.  There is now a 2-page Webinar Summary about the topic and you can also watch the recorded webinar on AFSC’s website <HERE>.  Dr. Nolan is a Research Associate Professor at UAF’s Institute of Northern Engineering with degrees in geophysics and arctic and mechanical engineering. He’sNolan-Webinar-2014-THUMB_Page_1 been pioneering new high-tech uses of an old tool—the aerial photo.  With new advances in computer processing and display technologies, airborne Digital SLR Photogrammetry is an even more powerful tool for field sciences, especially in remote areas like Alaska. Compared to LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging, or aerial 3D laser scanning), the low cost of DSLR photogrammetry makes it more affordable to make time-series of high-resolution maps, opening up  new possibilities for analyzing and understanding changes in the environment. Forest inventory, fire fuels assessments (like canopy height), snow depth, and post-burn vegetation recovery and monitoring are just a few examples of applications that could benefit from time-series of topographic measurements on an annual, monthly, or other repeating basis.

Dowload Webinar Summary <<LINK>>

Outcomes Assessment: Have we learned anything from JFSP-sponsored fire research in Alaska?

Outcome Assessment: Four Alaska JFSP Projects

The Joint Fire Science Program is doing a nation-wide survey this spring (2014) to ask managers whether sponsored research in their respective regions has improved management decisions or is useful to fire management practices.  We started thinking about this for Alaska and prepared a 2-page review of a sample of four projects dating back to 2002 to see whether they have had any impact on management in Alaska, and what their outcomes appear to be today.  Principal investigators included Scott Rupp (UAF), Phil Higuera (University of Idaho), Dan Mann (UAF), and Teresa Hollingsworth (USFS-Fairbanks).  Read our review and see if you think these projects were indeed worthwhile!

“Projected Vegetation and Fire Regime Response to Future Climate Change in National Parks in Interior Alaska”

Excerpt from: Loya, W., Springsteen, A., Barnes, J., and S. Rupp. Projected Vegetation and Fire Regime Response to Future Climate Change in National Parks in Interior Alaska. Alaska Park Science 10:1 (22-25).

Climate change presents a significant challenge to managing our natural and cultural resources. Ecological models that project effects of climate change on plants, animals, and other system components can be used by managers to understand how these effects will impact park resources.

Online Piled Fuels Biomass & Emissions Calculator

It’s that time of year again to start thinking about burning your leftover piles from this year’s (or past) hazard fuel reduction projects.

Ever wonder how much biomass you are actually burning in those piles?  Need a better way to estimate smoke emissions and impacts to comply with the evermore strict air quality reguations?

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News from the Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Lab

The Fire and Environmental Research Application Team (or FERA) from the USFS Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Lab have several new products, papers, and projects to share with you!

Check out the FCCS fuelbed maps for Alaska, the Alaska boreal fire-history synthesis and lit review, and this new article on the relationship between climate and fire.

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