Climate change and wildfire risk in an expanding wildland–urban interface: a case study from the Colorado Front Range Corridor
- 902 Downloads
Wildfire is a particular concern in the wildland–urban interface (WUI) of the western United States where human development occurs close to flammable natural vegetation.
(1) Assess the relative influences of WUI expansion versus climate-driven fire regime change on spatial and temporal patterns of burned WUI, and (2) determine whether WUI developed in the future will have higher or lower wildfire risk than existing WUI.
We projected the spatial pattern of the WUI and its associated wildfire risk from 2005 to 2050 at 90-m spatial resolution and 5-year intervals in Colorado Front Range using CHANGE, a landscape change model that simulates land cover and land use change, natural vegetation dynamics, and wildfire in a unified framework. A total of four scenarios from a factorial design with static versus changing WUI and static versus changing fire regimes were simulated to examine the effects of WUI expansion and climate-driven fire regime change on burned area in the WUI.
Both WUI expansion and fire regime change contributed to the increase of burned WUI, but fire regime change had a stronger influence. The effects of WUI expansion and fire regime change had a combined influence greater than the sum of their individual effects. This interaction was a result of projected WUI expansion into regions of higher wildfire risk than existing WUI.
The human footprint will continue to expand into wildland areas and must be considered along with climate effects when assessing the impacts of changing fire regimes in future landscapes.
KeywordsDisturbance Coupled human and natural systems Western United States Land use Land cover Social–ecological systems
We thank Tamara Wilson for providing helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. Financial support for this work was provided through Research Work Order Number G12AC20295 from the USGS. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.
- Carletta J (1996) Assessing agreement on classification tasks: the kappa statistic. Comput linguist 22(2):249–254Google Scholar
- CSFS (2010) Colorado Statewide Forest Resource Assessment: A Foundation for Strategic Discussion and Implementation of Forest Management in Colorado. http://csfs.colostate.edu/pdfs/SFRA09_csfs-forestassess-web-bkmrks.pdf
- Keane RE, Ryan KC, Veblen TT, Allen CD, Logan JA, Hawkes B, Barron J (2002) The cascading effects of fire exclusion in Rocky Mountain ecosystems. In: Baron J (ed) Rocky Mountain futures: an ecological perspective. Island Press, Washington, D.C., pp 133–152Google Scholar
- Lamsal A, Wimberly MC, Liu Z, Sohl TL A (214) Simulation model of human–natural interactions in dynamic landscapes. In: Ames DP, Quinn NWT, Rizz AE (eds) Proceedings of the 7th international congress on environmental modelling and software, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
- Liu Z, Wimberly MC, Lamsal A, Sohl TL, Hawbaker TJ (2014) Coupled simulation of human-driven and natural land cover change in the Front Range Corridor, CO. In: Ames DP, Quinn NWT, Rizz AE (eds) Proceedings of the 7th international congress on environmental modelling and software, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
- Nathans LL, Oswald FL, Nimon K (2012) Interpreting multiple linear regression: a guidebook of variable importance. Pract Ass Res Eval 17(9):2Google Scholar
- Romme WH, Veblen TT, Kaufmann MR, Sherriff R, Regan CM (2003) Ecological effects of the Hayman fire. Hayman fire case study 114:181Google Scholar
- Sleeter BM, Sohl TL, Bouchard MA, Reker RR, Soulard CE, Acevedo W, Griffith GE, Sleeter RR, Auch RF, Sayler KL, Prisley S, Zhu Z (2012) Scenarios of land use and land cover change in the conterminous United States: utilizing the special report on emission scenarios at ecoregional scales. Glob Environ Change 22(4):896–914CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Sohl TL, Sayler KL, Bouchard MA, Reker RR, Friesz AM, Bennett SL, Sleeter BM, Sleeter RR, Wilson T, Soulard C, Knuppe M, Van Hofwegen T (2014) Spatially explicit modeling of 1992–2100 land cover and forest stand age for the conterminous United States. Ecol Appl 24(5):1015–1036CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Theobald DM (2005) Landscape patterns of exurban growth in the USA from 1980 to 2020. Ecol Soc 10(1):32Google Scholar
- Turner MG (2001) Landscape ecology in theory and practice: pattern and process. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- USDA, USDI (2001) Urban wildland interface communities within the vicinity of federal lands that are at high risk from wildfire. Fed Reg 66(3):751–777Google Scholar
- Wimberly MC, Sohl TL, Liu Z, Lamsal A (2014) Simulating forest landscape disturbances as coupled human and natural systems. In: Perera AH, Sturtevant B, Buse LJ (eds) Modeling forest landscape disturbances. Springer, New YorkGoogle Scholar