Projecting future fire regimes and watershed dynamics requires coupling fire spread with ecohydrology
11:30 AM - 11:50 AM
Thu Nov 21, 2019
Salon G
General Session


Authors: Ryan Bart, University of California Merced; Christina L. Tague, University of Calfornia Santa Barbara; Donald McKenzie, University of Washington

Fire regimes are expected to be modified by climate change, but feedbacks among fuels, climate, and hydrology complicate projections of future fire regimes. We require better representation of the interactions between wildfire and watersheds to understand how both fire regimes and ecoohydrological processes will be impacted by climate change. Ecohydrological models couple physical and biological processes to project watershed dynamics under various climate and management scenarios. Integrating most models of fire spread and effects with an ecohydrological model is complicated by the detailed characterization of fuel loading and structure required for predicting the spread of individual wildfires, but such explicit fuel characterization is usually extraneous to the core algorithms for ecohydrological modeling. WMFire is a fire spread model of intermediate complexity that is designed specifically for coupling with the Regional Hydroecological Simulation System (RHESSys), which has been updated to compute fire effects. This integrated simulation system evaluates coupled fire-regime and watershed processes at multi-decadal temporal scales. We present preliminary simulations under a simple factorial combination of increased temperature and decreased precipitation to evaluate which watershed ecosystem services and fire regime characteristics are most sensitive to these dimensions of climate change.

Maureen C. Kennedy Assistant Professor, University of Washington, Tacoma

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