The High Country News recently talked with Jack Cohen, a research physical fire scientist with the U.S. Forest Service in Missoula, about why homes burn in wildfires. Drawing on many years of experience, Cohen discusses the importance of sociopolitical factors in home protection. Cohen stresses the need for homeowners to properly mitigate before a wildfire strikes, and the need for all of us to adapt to fire-prone landscapes.
As climate change talks in Paris ramp up, discussions about the international impacts of our changing climate are being highlighted. The interactions between a more unpredictable climate and our forests are a topic of intense study as nations around the world observe changes in different types of forests. Climate change and the catastrophic wildfire written on the PLOS Ecology blog provides an overview of some of the impacts we can likely expect as climate change progresses. A brief excerpt follows:
Climate change has and will continue to increase the severity and frequency of ecological disturbance due to fire. Beyond this, climate change is also affecting natural species distributions and exotic species invasions. The co-occurrence of increased fire due to climate change and increased invasions due to climate change may sometimes be disastrous. In western North America, pine bark beetles are ravaging populations of pine trees across several mountain ranges. These beetles caused disturbances in the past but the current epidemic is an order of magnitude worse than prior invasions. Recent research suggests that this increase in severity is due to the increase in air temperature in these mountain ranges. Pine bark beetles reproduce during summer months when the temperature is warm in the northern hemisphere.