Wildfires and Climate Change

The effects of climate change on biodiversity are complex and still not well understood in many ecosystems. Our research contributes to the growing body of knowledge of the effects of climate change on ecosystems in eastern Washington. Here, it is increasingly apparent that large wildfires are the “new norm” and can be expected to increase in number and severity. Already, the fire season has expanded by at least a month on both ends. Our research work provides an opportunity to gather essential information about how climate change and the resultant increase in wildfires are impacting local ecosystems.

One of the most dramatic impacts of climate change on ecosystems in Washington State is the effect of changing fire weather conditions and increase lightning ignitions, which is resulting in more massive and severe wildfires. The extensive wildfires of the last two years have significantly altered many areas in the Methow and other parts of Okanogan County. Over 808,000 acres have burned in wildfires during the last two years (about 24% of the county). The extensive and repeated impact of wildfires is a cause for concern. It is also a confirmation of the projections of climate and fire scientists that wildfires will become more frequent and severe. These fires have dramatically changed the distribution and condition of available habitat for wildlife. Our project is focused on assessing the changes that have occurred and how these changes affect the distribution of wildlife species and the health and resilience of local ecosystems. Read more about our current research work on the impact of wildfires and climate change on biodiversity.

Read much more about PBI's research on wildfires, fire ecology, news articles on our work and how to create fire adapted communities

WEBMAP: Initial Burn Severity Map of the 2014 Carlton Complex Fires

REPORT: Carlton Complex Fires 2014 - A Rapid Initial Assessment of the Impact of Washington State’s Largest Wildfire

 


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