Do bark beetle outbreaks really affect burning?

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It has long been assumed that bark beetle outbreaks on the Kenai lead to increased fire danger, even though beetle disturbance has been shown to have mixed effects on crown fire potential, fuel profiles and burn severity in the Rocky Mountains.  Winslow Hansen, doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin, recently published an analysis of beetle outbreaks and fire on the Kenai Peninsula between 2001-2014 (Hansen et al. 2016).  He looked at effects in pure white spruce stands–where duration of beetle attacks is longer and mortality greater–and in mixed white and black spruce stands common on the northern peninsula, where attacks are less severe.  His analysis indicates mixed effects:  severely damaged white spruce stands did not demonstrate increased fire occurrence (instead, % canopy cover appeared to drive likelihood of burning) while the mixed white/black spruce stands did show a positive correlation with beetle outbreaks and fire.  Winston explores the reasons for this in his relatively short article:  worth reading.  You may remember Winslow from his previous work on beetles/fire effects and property values on the Kenai (recorded MS Thesis defense) and climate effects on fire regime (recorded 2015 presentation).

Citation:  Hansen, W.D, F.S. Chapin III, H.T. Naughton, T.S. Rupp, and D. Verbyla. 2016. Forest-landscape structure mediates effects of a spruce bark beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis) outbreak on subsequent likelihood of burning in Alaskan boreal forest.  Forest Ecology and Management 369: 38–46.

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Research Brief: New Satellite Sensors for Wildfire Mapping and Monitoring

UNIversity FORmation Mission 1--microsatellite designed by Hokkaido University for wildfire management (photo:  Koji Nakau)

UNIversity FORmation Mission 1–microsatellite designed by Hokkaido University for wildfire management (photo: Koji Nakau)

Hokkaido University (HU) is one of the world leaders in developing new earth-observing space technology. Dr. Koji Nakau leads their wildfire remote sensing applications team. He’s working with various partners—including UAF—on new satellite-derived products delivered to wildland fire managers in Alaska and around the world.  They are especially excited about the May 24th (2014) launch of a rocket carrying ALOS-2 (Advanced Land Observing Satellite) which is also carrying a couple microsatellites with sensors specifically designed by his team to detect wildfire signatures. In addition to improving real-time operational support, satellite data is analyzed in support of wildfire propagation modeling, smoke transport, fuels estimates, and post-fire ecology.

Read About the New Satellites>>  |  Download Research Brief PDF (744 kb)

Research Brief: Fire Severity Filters Regeneration Traits to Shape Community Assembly in Alaska’s Boreal Forest

 Fire Severity Filters Regeneration Traits RB-2014-1thumbto Shape Community Assembly in Alaska’s Boreal Forest:  A recent paper by Hollingsworth et al. (2013) proposes that fire severity and a plant’s intrinsic regeneration strategy are key determinants in post-fire community recovery.  The authors identify species that may fare better or worse with predicted changes in Alaska’s fire regime. Hollingsworth–who is based at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks–bases her findings on a large (n = 87) and geographically diverse set of post-fire plots in interior Alaska boreal forest.   Read More >>  |  Download Research Brief PDF (850 kb)

Research Brief: Is Alaska’s Forest Crossing a Threshold?

 Is Alaska’s Boreal Forest Now Crossing a Major Ecological Threshold?: rb-2013-4-thumbnailRead up on what Alaskan forest and climate research has found out about the influence of warming climate on boreal forests in the Interior!  Here’s a new 2-page Research Brief that digests one of the more significant papers on forest and climate change.  The authors– Dan Mann, Scott Rupp, Mark Olson and Paul Duffy– are well-known to Alaska fire managers. This is a good basis to our upcoming focus on multi-faceted influences of dynamic climate on fire regime, forests, and fire management in Alaska in 2014!     Read More >>  |  Download PDF (861 kb)

Future global wildland fire season severity

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Global wildland fire season severity in the 21st century: A 1-page research brief summarizes a recently published article by Canadian fire scientist Mike Flannigan of the University of Alberta.  Dr. Flannigan is well-known in Alaska fire management circles due to his contributions to boreal forest wildfire studies and the Canadian large fire database.   This 2013 article describes the use of component indices of the Canadian Fuels Danger Rating System to forecast future changes in fire season severity world-wide. Download >> | Research Brief  (pdf, 180 kb) or link to the full scientific article.

ACCAP hosted a webinar with Dr. Flannigan in July 2013. Watch the recording here.

Climate, Fire, Frost and the Carbon Bank Research Brief

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Climate, Fire, Frost and the Carbon Bank: This 2-page research brief summarizes several years of field studies–citing recently published articles–by USGS soil scientists Jennifer Harden and Kristen Manies.  Their studies shed new light on the impact of fires on permafrost in Alaska boreal forest, and  interactions of fire effects and freezing effects on the forest floor.  The insulating moss/duff layer plays a critical role in protecting permafrost and conditions suitable for the rapid regrowth of permafrost are keys to determining whether boreal forest will retain its ability to store large amounts of biomass carbon.     Read More >>  |  Download PDF (1.5 Mb)

Smoke Science Plan: The Path Forward

The Joint Fire Science Program just published the September 2012 Issue of Fire Science Digest:

“Smoke Science Plan: The Path Forward”

Read it here. (Click the “Full Screen” button for the best viewing.)

Can’t access the document above?

Download the full pdf here: http://www.firescience.gov/Digest/FSdigest14.pdf

2012 Alaska Fire Science Workshop Presentations Now Posted!

All of the presentations, handouts, and recordings from the 2012 Alaska Fire Science Workshop are available for viewing/download here: www.frames.gov/afsc/2012workshop

Click on any of the topics below to watch the recording:

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Exhibit to Reveal ‘Art’ of Fire Science and Management

www.frames.gov/afsc/artoffire     

Fairbanks, Alaska—Nine local artists will unveil work of varied media inspired by fire, fire management and fire science at the exhibit opening of “In a Time of Change: The Art of Fire” at the Bear Gallery in Pioneer Park Aug. 3.

The First Friday opening will be 5-7 p.m. and the exhibit will be on display during gallery hours, noon-8 p.m. daily, through Sept. 3.

“The Art of Fire” is part of a larger collaborative effort led by the Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research Station (LTER) to engage the arts, sciences and humanities in artistic exchanges regarding environmental issues, particularly climate change. Dubbing the network “In a Time of Change,” LTER has organized and helped fund similar events featuring visual, written and performance art in Fairbanks in recent years.

The Alaska Fire Science Consortium, a regional branch of a national fire science knowledge exchange network, saw “In a Time of Change” as an opportunity to bring new voices into conversations about fire science and management. AFSC partnered with LTER for “The Art of Fire” project, which focuses solely on visual artwork and is funded by the Joint Fire Science Program.

“This is really about building connections between the artistic talent we have in Fairbanks and managers and scientists throughout the state to promote awareness of fire and fire sciences in Alaska,” said Sarah Trainor, director of AFSC.

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