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Project ID: 08-1-1-19

Year: 2008

Date Started: 10/01/2008

Date Completed: 11/14/2012

Title: Assessing Fuels Treatment in Southern California National Forests in the Context of Climate Change

Project Proposal Abstract: One of the key uncertainties in fuels treatments is their longevity under a changing climate. In 2007, southern California experienced one of the most severe fire seasons to date due to record low fuel moistures early in the fire season (culminating in the 2-month Zaca fire) and historic Santa Ana winds late in the season (resulting in several large late October fires). Climate change projections for the region suggest that these extreme conditions will be observed with increasingly greater frequency over the next half century. Southern California has one of the largest Wildland Urban Interface problems in the country, and its extent of WUI is projected to increase significantly over the next 50 years. Fuels treatments are particularly important in mitigating wildland fire risk in WUI areas when extreme fire conditions occur. However, fuels treatments are traditionally designed to withstand historic fire weather conditions (i.e., from FireFamilyPlus), not future conditions, which makes their effectiveness less likely in the future. We propose to address the uncertainties of projected climate change and its impacts on fuel treatments through six case studies of existing and future fuels treatments in four southern California National Forests. We will 1) develop downscaled projections of future climate and fire weather scenarios for southern California, 2) test the effectiveness of existing National Forest fuels treatments under future scenarios, 3) test several proposed fuels treatments to develop thresholds for fuels treatment effectiveness, and 4) develop guidelines and tools for incorporating future climate and fire weather scenarios into fuels treatment development. While this project is focused on southern California, the protocols developed will be generalized and applicable over a broad spectrum of ecoregions so that fuels managers throughout the country can address the impacts of climate change in fuels treatment implementation and retreatment.

Principal Investigator: Timothy J. Brown

Agency/Organization: Desert Research Institute

Branch or Dept: Division of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS)

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Co-Principal Investigator

John T. Abatzoglou

University of Idaho

Department of Geography

Co-Principal Investigator

Crystal A. Kolden

University of Idaho

Department of Forest, Rangeland and Fire Sciences

Federal Cooperator

Francis M. Fujioka

Forest Service

PSW-Forest Fire Lab-Riverside

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network









Los Padres National Forest




San Bernardino National Forest

Project Deliverables

Final Report view or print

("Results presented in JFSP Final Reports may not have been peer-reviewed and should be interpreted as tentative until published in a peer-reviewed source.")

  ID Type Title
view or print   2863 Journal Article International Journal of Climatology
view or print   2864 Journal Article International Journal of Climatology

Supporting Documents

There are no supporting documents available for this project.

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