Wildfire and fuel treatment effects on forest carbon dynamics in the western United States
Restaino, J.C., and D.L. Peterson. 2013. Wildfire and fuel treatment effects on forest carbon dynamics in the western United States. Forest Ecology and Management 303:46-60, doi:10.1016/j.foreco.2013.03.043.
Sequestration of carbon (C) in forests has the potential to mitigate the effects of climate change by offsetting future emissions of greenhouse gases. However, in dry temperate forests, wildfire is a natural disturbance agent with the potential to release large fluxes of C into the atmosphere. Climate-driven increases in wildfire extent and severity are expected to increase the risks of reversal to C stores and affect the potential of dry forests to sequester C. In the western United States, fuel treatments that successfully reduce surface fuels in dry forests can mitigate the spread and severity of wildfire, while reducing both tree mortality and emissions from wildfire. However, heterogeneous burn environments, site-specific variability in post-fire ecosystem response, and uncertainty in future fire frequency and extent complicate assessments of long-term (decades to centuries) C dynamics across large landscapes.
UW Climate Impacts Group