Cooler, wetter parts of Pacific Northwest likely to see more fires, new simulations predict

By Steve Lundeberg
College of Forestry – Oregon State University
February 22, 2024
Category: Forestry
Region: United States, US West

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Forests in the coolest, wettest parts of the western Pacific Northwest are likely to see the biggest increases in burn probability, fire size and number of blazes as the climate continues to get warmer and drier, according to new modeling led by an Oregon State University scientist. Understanding how fire regimes may change under future climate scenarios is critical for developing adaptation strategies, said the study’s lead author, Alex Dye. Dye, a faculty research associate in the OSU College of Forestry, and collaborators with the U.S. Forest Service conducted novel, comprehensive wildfire simulations for more than 23 million acres of forest land west of the Cascade Range crest in Oregon and Washington. …Forests in all of the affected areas are linchpins of multiple socio-ecological systems in the Northwest, Dye said, meaning more fire will likely put pressure on everything from drinking water sources and timber resources to biodiversity and carbon stocks.

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