, Volume 116, Issue 3-4, pp 579-591
Date: 22 Jun 2012

Potential effect of climate change on observed fire regimes in the Cordilleran forests of South-Central Interior, British Columbia

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Climate change is predicted to result in a warmer and drier climate in many parts of the world, including south-central British Columbia. With a shift in climate, a change in fire regimes is likely to occur. In this study, a statistically significant increase in mean fire size was predicted to occur along with an increase maximum fire size and decrease in the mean fire interval. A change in these fire regime characteristics suggests a climate-change driven shift in fire regimes may occur by the 2020s. The shift in fire regime suggests the proportion of the landscape burning every 50 years or less will increase from 34 % to 93 % by the 2080s. Change in fire regimes will have direct implications for ecosystem management as the combination of large, flammable fuel types and fire-prone climatic conditions will increase the risk of larger more frequent fires and increase the costs and dangers involved in managing fire-prone forests in the Cordilleran region of south-central British Columbia. The climate change-driven shift in fire regime questions the use of historic fire regime characteristics for determining landscape-level conservation targets within the study area.