Stephan K.,University of Idaho |
Stephan K.,University of Missouri |
Miller M.,National Interagency Fire Center |
Dickinson M.B.,Forest Service
Fire Ecology | Year: 2010
Herbaceous plants and shrubs have received little attention in terms of fire effects modeling despite their critical role in ecosystem integrity and resilience after wildfires and prescribed burns. In this paper, we summarize current knowledge of direct effects of fire on herb and shrub (including cacti) vegetative tissues and seed banks, propose key components for process-based modeling, and outline research needs. Most herbs and shrubs are likely to be killed or top-killed even in low intensity surface fires. Therefore, modeling efforts should focus on mortality of protected above and below ground meristematic tissue and seeds as well as the effects on seed germination. Further development of an organic and mineral soil heating model capable of describing heating patterns under a range of flaming and smoldering fire behaviors, validated heat transfer models for protected plant structures, standardized descriptions of tissue heat tolerance for a wider range of species, and a better understanding of the effects of soil heating on seed banks are required. The combination of these components would result in a comprehensive, process based model predicting immediate herb, shrub, and seed mortality and post-fire responses. It would permit quantitative description of fire severity and a more accurate prediction of post-fire ecosystem recovery.
This year, an astounding 9,779,866 acres have been marred due to wildfires in the U.S., according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Detection of these wildfires is often the responsibility of people. But NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is working on a solution to monitor wildfires from above. FireSat is designed as an array of more than 200 thermal infrared imaging sensors attached to satellites, specifically meant to swiftly locate wildfires around the globe. “While many wildfires are reported by 9-1-1 calls soon after ignition, some are not, and delays in detection can lead to rapid escalation of a fire and dramatic growth of the cost of suppression. The system we envision will work day and night for fires anywhere in the world,” said lead designer of FireSat Robert Staehle. The sensors are designed to detect fires at least 35 to 50 ft wide, within 15 min of their start. Following detection, FireSat would notify early responders in the proper area within 3 min. JPL will assist in the design, demonstration and development of the “sensor constellation.” Ecliptic Enterprises will be the production supplier for the sensor assemblies. “We’ll complete sensor integration and testing in batches and deliver them on a regular pace to the host spacecraft series starting in 2017,” said Ecliptic’s CEO Rex Ridenoure. JPL hopes to have a fully operational system of FireSat sensors implemented by June 2018. “Such a system has only now become feasible at a reasonable cost, enabled by advances in commercial microelectronics that NASA, JPL and universities have tested in space via CubeSat experiments, and by software technology originally developed to give Mars rovers and Earth orbiters more autonomy in their science observations,” said Staehle. But FireSat isn’t NASA’s first attempt at wildfire detection and monitoring from space. The Terra satellite is outfitted with the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, which assists in fire detection; and the Sensor Web Project combines sensor usage with autonomous satellite observation to study wildfires, volcanoes and flooding events. A handful of other devices assist with fire mapping. But existing wildfire sensors on satellites only detect fires about twice a day, transmitting large images. FireSat will send low-resolution images of a fire every minute, with latitude and longitude coordinates. JPL is working in collaboration with Quadra Pi R2E on the project. “The environmental justification is without question, and its realization makes incredible economic and security sense,” said FireSat’s technical coordinator Arthur Lane, of Quadra.
Last year’s wildfire season set a record with more than 10 million acres burned. That’s more land than Maryland, the District and Delaware combined. More than half the total was the result of mega-fires in Alaska, where dryness due to historically low mountain snowpack and a freak lightning storm created perfect conditions for a huge blaze. The nation’s overall toll was about 4 million acres more than the yearly average, scorching a record set in 2006. The record was anticipated by the U.S. Forest Service, the Agriculture Department division charged with fighting fires, because of climate change and a prolonged drought in western states that parched wilderness areas. Alaska’s wildfire season was its second worst ever, and both Washington and Oregon suffered historic burns. Those two states were on pace to break records as early as September, with nearly 2 million acres charred between them. [Wildfires cost more to fight, but Congress keeps refusing to foot the bill] Agriculture Department officials have warned that fire seasons are starting earlier and lasting longer than years ago, and they’ve sought to convince Congress to change the way it funds firefighting because its budget appropriation falls short nearly every year. So far, Congress has refused. Lawmakers base their funding on the average cost to fight fires over the previous decade. But that doesn’t account for wildfire seasons that now run from April through December instead of June to September. It once was rare to see 5 million cumulative acres burn in a year, fire officials say, but recent seasons have recorded twice that. At least two controlled wildfires are currently burning in California and Texas, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. To cover the budget shortfalls for firefighting, the Agriculture Department robs the funding of other parts of the Forest Service, some of them devoted to fire prevention. In December, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told lawmakers that practice would stop and issued an angry ultimatum: If you want the Forest Service to keep putting out huge wildfires, then pay for it up front. Vilsack was upset because Congress set aside $1.6 billion to pay for wildfire suppression in 2016, ignoring that the Forest Service spent $100 million more than that to fight blazes even before 2015 ended. The service paid $243 million in a single week in August to suppress fires — another record. By 2025, the Forest Service estimates, fighting fires will eat 67 percent of its budget, a seismic increase from 16 percent in 1995. [West Coast residents are caught in a line of fire from California to Washington] “This directly impacts the Forest Service’s ability to fund other critical work such as restoration that can reduce wildfire threat, drinking water area protection, and recreation investments, not just in the West, but across the country,” Vilsack wrote last month. In last year’s strange season, California, staggered by a four-year drought, experienced about a thousand more fires than usual, but they at least were smaller burns that allowed the state to escape the monster infernos officials predicted. The Pacific Northwest, which was suffering its own historic drought, was harder hit. Washington was so dry that Olympic National Park, a rain forest and arguably one of the wettest areas in North America, caught fire and burned for weeks. A single fire, the Canyon Creek Complex, burned 110,000 acres in Oregon. Ninety-eight fires met the Northwest Interagency Coordination Center “large fires” criteria.
Murphy T.,National Interagency Fire Center |
Naugle D.E.,University of Montana |
Eardley R.,National Interagency Fire Center |
Maestas J.D.,U.S. Department of Agriculture |
And 3 more authors.
Rangelands | Year: 2013
On the Ground Conservation partners across 11 western states are rallying in unprecedented fashion to reduce threats to sage-grouse and the sagebrush ecosystem they occupy. Improvements made in the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) wildfire policy are a tremendous step forward but the 2012 wildfire season is a harsh reminder that more action is needed to improve our effectiveness in reducing impacts to sage-grouse. Challenges and opportunities presented here are intended to heighten awareness of the wildfire issue and to further accelerate a mutually agreed upon, spatially explicit path forward, so that all partners can quickly engage in its implementation. © 2013 by the Society for Range Management.
Morgan T.A.,University of Montana |
Brandt J.P.,National Interagency Fire Center |
Songster III K.E.,University of Montana |
Keegan C.E.,University of Montana |
Christensen G.A.,Pacific Northwest Research Station
USDA Forest Service - General Technical Report PNW-GTR | Year: 2012
This report traces the flow of California's 2006 timber harvest through the primary wood products industry (i.e., firms that process timber into manufactured products such as lumber, as well as facilities such as pulp mills and particleboard plants, which use the wood fiber or mill residue directly from timber processors) and provides a description of the structure, condition, and economic impacts of California's forest products industry. Historical wood products industry changes are discussed, as well as trends in harvest, production, mill residue, and sales. Also examined are employment and worker earnings in the state's primary and secondary forest products industry.