This Critical Issues webinar explores recent trends in wildfires and changes in contributing factors / drivers of these hazards and features case studies of wildfire policy and management strategies in the western and southern United States.
The combination of frequent droughts, changing climate conditions, and longer fire seasons along with urban development expansion into wildland areas has resulted in more difficult conditions for managing wildfires. Over the last several decades, the size of wildfire burn areas has increased substantially and nine of the 10 years with the largest wildfire burn areas have occurred since 2000. Wildfires are causing more frequent and wider-ranging societal impacts, especially as residential communities continue to expand into wildland areas. Since 2000, there have been twelve wildfires in the United States that have each caused damages exceeding a billion dollars; cumulatively these twelve wildfires have caused a total of $44 billion dollars in damages. As of 2010, 44 million homes in the conterminous United States were located within the wildland-urban-interface, an area where urban development either intermingles with or is in the vicinity of large areas of dense wildland vegetation. These challenging conditions present a unique opportunity to adapt existing wildfire policy and management strategies to present and future wildfire scenarios.
Our speakers are:
- Tania Schoennagel, Ph.D., Research Scientist, University of Colorado-Boulder | Slides | Video
- David Godwin, Ph.D., Southern Fire Exchange / University of Florida | Slides | Video
- Vaughan Miller, Deputy Chief, Ventura County Fire Department | Slides | Video
Resources to learn more:
- View this webinar's Question & Answer session
- Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity website
- National Fire Protection Association: Statistics and Reports
- National Interagency Fire Center website
- Joint Fire Science Program website
- Southern Fire Exchange website
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northern Research Station: The 2010 wildland-urban interface of the conterminous United States. Martinuzzi et al. (2015)
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Climate Change Indicators in the United States
- U.S. Forest Service: National Cohesive Wildland Fire Management Strategy
- U.S. Geological Survey: Emergency Assessment of Post-Fire Debris-Flow Hazards
- National Association of State Foresters, Coalition of Prescribed Fire Councils: 2015 National Prescribed Fire Use Survey
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Adapt to wildfire in western North American forests as climate changes. Schoennagel et al. (2017)
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Human-started wildfires expand the fire niche across the United States. Balch et al. (2017)
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Impact of anthropogenic climate change on wildfire across western US forests. Abatzoglou, J.T. and Williams, A.P. (2016)
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: Rapid growth of the US wildland-urban interface raises wildfire risk. Radeloff et al. (2018)
- International Journal of Wildland Fire: Bridging the divide between fire safety research and fighting fire safely: how do we convey research innovation to contribute more effectively to wildland firefighter safety? Adams et al. (2017)
Search the Critical Issues Research Database for reports and factsheets about wildfires.