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SERI Fire Project

SERI Fire: Research Initiative Seeks Innovation through Collaboration

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Professors Sarah Anderson, Andrew Plantinga, and Naomi Tague lead an interdisciplinary team in pursuit of new strategies for managing wildfire under conditions of climate change

In the past few decades, evolving wildfire science has led to a shift away from employing “fire suppression” as a one-size-fits-all fire-management strategy, and recent ecological research has also highlighted how changes in climate and land-management practices can affect fire regimes and their impacts. Still, selecting the “right” fire management strategy when multiple variables are at play is a complex process requiring the integration of new fire science and new environmental considerations. While the ecology of fire in the western U.S. has been studied extensively, there is a dearth of information about how humans, particularly those residing at the wildland-urban interface, influence and respond to wildfire, and how institutional barriers may hinder effective fire management.

Over-arching Research Questions

BIOPHYSICAL:
How do fuel treatments alter ecosystem services (water provision, carbon sequestration, mortality and fire risk – maybe reservoir sedimentation)
– for a “patch”
– across a watershed
Key point is that we seek to answer this question by considering ecosystem services both immediately after a disturbance (fire, fuel treatments) and during the recovery period – therefore we must account for inter-annual climate variation and change

COUPLING with SOCIAL SCIENCE
How does salience (as a control on when and where fuel treatments occur) influence ecosystem services – by comparing estimation of ecosystem services (water, carbon, fire and mortality risk) at decadal time scales for scenarios
a) where fuel treatments “optimize” particular services
b) no fuel treatments
c) salience-driven fuel treatments

Publications & Presentations