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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Fuel Treatments Aid 2015 Firefighting Efforts in Alaska

A new report by USFWS Kenai Refuge fire staff (Nate Perrine) examines

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areas where the 2015 Card Street fire intersected completed fuels treatments. He utilized IFTDSS (Interagency Fuels Treatment Decision Support System) modeling to analyze the treatment effect on fire behavior, and also documented post fire effects within the treated areas. This well-illustrated discussion includes recommendations for future treatments and analyses–a must-read for fire fuels specialists in Alaska! Click below to download a pdf.

The Effects and Use of Fuel Treatments during the Card Street Fire

Webinar Dec 20th- What is Live Fuel Moisture? A New Look at the Combustion of Live Plants

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Image from Jennifer Barnes, National Park Service

Date: Thursday, December 20, 2012
Time: 10:00 – 11:30 AM (AK Time)

Presented by:  Matt Jolly, PhD
Research Ecologist, USFS
Fire, Fuel and Smoke Science Program
Missoula Fire Sciences Laboratory

Live fuel moisture is measured frequently throughout the country as an indicator of potential fire behavior but little is known about the primary factors that drive their seasonal variations. Dr. Matt Jolly will delve into the interactive factors that control live fuel moisture and will discuss some of the potential implications of these factors on seasonal variations in the fire potential of living plants. Ultimately, he will show how the interactions between the water content of the foliage and seasonal changes in the leaf’s dry weight combine to influence calculated live fuel moisture and its flammability.

Read more about Dr. Jolly’s work with living plants and fire and the Missoula Fire Sciences Lab.

Related Resources:
Foliar moisture content input in the Canadian Forest Fire Behavior Prediction System for areas outside of Canada
Martin E. Alexander, 2010

Assessing the effect of foliar moisture on the spread rate of crown fires
Martin E. Alexander and Miguel G. Cruz, 2012   [PDF]

Join The Webinar:

Click HERE to join this webinar (http://osu-pilot-conc.adobeconnect.com/dec202012/).

No pre-registration required.  This link will be active at 9:45 am AK Time on Dec 20th. Select “Enter as a Guest” and provide your name where prompted to participate.

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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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Listen to how Rod Norum faced the challenge of a major fire burning toward the Alaska Pipeline–including a “monster” tactical 26-mile-long backfire.

Direct link to this video:  http://youtu.be/2oLTxhLQd-E?t=3s

Visit the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center for more videos from the experts.

Learning from the experts: Watch Rod Norum discuss his experience with fuels and fire behavior in Alaska

Nenana Ridge Experimental Burn Project – JFSP Final Report

The Nenana Ridge Experimental Burn Project (06-2-1-396) Final Report is now available from the Joint Fire Science Program.

In summary…

This project was funded by the Joint Fire Science Program with contributions from local, state and federal agencies. This project was designed to quantify the effects of fuels reduction treatments on fire behavior and post-fire vegetation dynamics in Alaska black spruce. The study began in 2006 with installation of four 1-acre treatment blocks. Two blocks were thinned to 8 x 8 foot spacing and limbed, one was shearbladed, and one was shearbladed and windrowed. These four blocks were replicated in the adjacent forest unit, with the intent to burn each Unit (A and B) separately. Unit A was successfully ignited on June 17, 2009.  READ MORE

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Fuel reduction projects could increase carbon emissions

Photo from Oregon State University

Forest thinning, such as this work done in the Umpqua National Forest in Oregon, may be of value for some purposes but will also increase carbon emissions to atmosphere, researchers say. (Photo courtesy of Oregon State University)

News from Science Daily:

Forest health versus global warming: Fuel reduction likely to increase carbon emissions.

Read the full Journal Article:

John L Campbell, Mark E Harmon, Stephen R Mitchell. Can fuel-reduction treatments really increase forest carbon storage in the western US by reducing future fire emissions? Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2011; : 111215051503003 DOI: 10.1890/110057

Direct from the Source:

Oregon State University News

Alaska LANDFIRE Calibration Workshop

The Alaska LANDFIRE Calibration Workshop will be held in Fairbanks, Alaska on November7-10, 2011.

View the full Calibration Workshop Announcement.

This workshop is dedicated to evaluating the 2008 LANDFIRE Refresh data related to fire behavior fuel models across all of Alaska. Fuel layer maps and rule sets specific to the 13/40 and Canadian Fuel Models will be reviewed by map zone.  This is your opportunity to provide feedback and make this a better product for Alaska!

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