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Project ID: 16-1-01-18

Year: 2016

Date Started: 09/01/2016

Ending Date:  09/30/2019

Title: Impacts of Climate and Management Options on Wildland Fire Fighting in Alaska: Implications for Operational Costs and Complexity under Future Scenarios

Project Proposal Abstract: Fire activity in Alaska has increased significantly over the past several decades, and the top three years in terms of area burned have occurred since 2004. Increased fire activity has occurred coincident with novel extremes in summer weather, which strongly drive interannual variability in area burned in Alaska. Years with large area burned (e.g. 2004, 2005, and 2015) endanger life and property while straining the limits of available resources for fire management. At longer time scales, fire initiated shifts in dominant vegetation types have the potential to fundamentally alter the structure and function of Alaskan forest and tundra ecosystems; these shifts would alter the spatial configuration of differentially flammable fuel types as well as critical habitat availability for megafauna, in turn affecting community safety and reliance on ecosystem services. Climate change is likely to amplify future fire activity in Alaska. This presents managers with a complex set of challenges and underscores the need to address two critical questions: 1) What are the implications of future climate projections for fire activity in Alaska? And, 2) What are the implications of likely future fire activity for fire management and managers ability to meet objectives for land and resource management? In order to address these questions we propose to implement a research plan with two primary components. First, we will conduct a science assessment that will synthesize the state-of-the-science ALFRESCO (Alaska Frame-Based Ecosystem Code) modeling outputs. We will share these findings with the fire management community through a workshop and website. Second, we will integrate information from the science assessment with input from fire managers from focus groups and interviews to develop operational scenarios of alternative management approaches. As part of this second component, we will quantify the impact of alternative management scenarios on forecast future fire regimes under different climate scenarios and characterize the implications for future operational costs and complexity. These operational scenarios will be depicted as inputs into the ALFRESCO model so that managers can assess the impacts of different scenarios on key components of the fire regime, ecosystem characteristics, and other important values. We will then focus on science delivery. At a second workshop we will discuss with managers their preferences for different scenarios, resource needs, policy recommendations, and information needs and subsequently disseminate our findings more broadly. The work that is proposed in this project directly responds to the task statement questions by using the state-of-the science simulation modeling in conjunction with the development of management options to characterize and explore future fire regimes and their implications for fire management. We have assembled a strong interdisciplinary team with decades of collective experience working on applied research projects with stakeholders from the fire management community in Alaska. The objectives stated herein provide the necessary framework to characterize potential future fire regimes and their associated implications for operational investments and complexity in ways that will be useful to fire and land managers in Alaska for communicating and planning for their fire management needs into the future.

Principal Investigator: Courtney A. Schultz

Agency/Organization: Colorado State University

Branch or Dept: Department of Forest, Rangeland & Watershed Stewardship

Other Project Collaborators




Branch or Dept

Agreements Contact

Kristine L. Miller

Colorado State University

Sponsored Programs

Budget Contact

Kristine L. Miller

Colorado State University

Sponsored Programs

Co-Principal Investigator

Paul A. Duffy

Neptune & Company

Lakewood CO Office

Co-Principal Investigator

Nancy L. Fresco

University of Alaska-Fairbanks

International Arctic Research Center

Project Locations

Fire Science Exchange Network









Project Deliverables

There is no final report available for this project.
There are no deliverables available for this project.

Supporting Documents

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