Advertisement

Regional Climate Change in the Southern United States: The Implications for Wildfire Occurrence

  • Warren E. Heilman
  • Brian E. Potter
  • John I. Zerbe
Part of the Ecological Studies book series (ECOLSTUD, volume 128)

Abstract

Fires have always been an important factor in determining the composition of forests worldwide, but particularly in the southern United States. Wildfires were a common occurrence in American forests in the early twentieth century. Before 1930, wildfires typically accounted for the burning of eight to twenty million hectares (ha) in the United States each year. By the early 1940s, wildfires were still responsible for the annual burning of over eight million ha. Over 90% of the area burned during this time was on privately owned lands, primarily in the southern United States (Fedkiw, 1989). Between 1950 and 1980, the hectares burned by wildfires steadily decreased as the area receiving organized protection increased and the intensity of the protection efforts increased (Peterson, 1982). In recent years, the total area burned by wildfires in the United States has diminished to about one to two million ha per year (USDA Forest Service, 1992). Although the decrease in the number of hectares burned by wildfires across the United States has been significant over the last seventy years, the relative importance of wildfires in the southern United States in relation to other regions of the United States is significant. More hectares are burned by wildfires in the southern United States than in any other region of the country.

Keywords

Circulation Pattern ENSO Event Fire Occurrence Wildland Fire Large Wildfire 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bjerknes J (1969) Atmospheric teleconnections from the equatorial Pacific. Mon Wea Rev 97:163–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Boer GJ, McFarlane NA, Lazare M (1992) Greenhouse gas-induced climate change simulated with the CCC second-generation general circulation model. J Climate 5:1045–1077.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brotak EA, Reifsnyder WE (1977) Predicting major wildfire occurrence. Fire Manage Notes 38:5–8.Google Scholar
  4. Byram GM (1954) Atmospheric conditions related to blowup fires. USDA For Serv Stat Pap 35, 31 p.Google Scholar
  5. Davis RT (1969) Atmospheric stability forecast and fire control. Fire Cont Notes 30:3–4,15.Google Scholar
  6. Fast JD (1994) The effect of regional-scale soil-moisture deficits on mesoscale atmospheric dynamics that influence fire severity. WSRC-TR-94–0468, Westinghouse Savannah River Company, Aiken, SC.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fast JD, Heilman WE (1996) The effect of regional-scale soil-moisture deficits on mesoscale atmospheric dynamics that influence fire severity. 22nd Conference on Agricultural and Forest Meteorology with Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology, American Meteorological Society.Google Scholar
  8. Fedkiw J (1989) The evolving use and management of the nation‘s forests, grasslands, croplands, and related resources. RM-175, USDA For Serv, Fort Collins, CO.Google Scholar
  9. Fosberg MA, Mearns LO, Price C (1993) Climate change-fire interactions at the global scale: Predictions and limitations of methods. In: Crutzen PJ, Goldammer JG (Eds) Fire in the environment: The ecological, atmospheric, and climatic importance of vegetation fires. John Wiley and Sons, New York.Google Scholar
  10. Gray WM (1984a) Atlantic seasonal hurricane frequency. Part I: El Nino and 30 mb quasibiennial oscillation influences. Mon Wea Rev 112:1649–1668.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gray WM (1984b) Atlantic seasonal hurricane frequency. Part II: Forecasting its variability. Mon Wea Rev 112:1669–1683.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Haines DA (1988) A lower atmospheric severity index for wildland fires. Nat Wea Digest 13:23–27.Google Scholar
  13. Hansen J, Russell G, Rind D, Stone P, Lacis A, Lebedeff S, Reudy R, Travis L (1983) Efficient three-dimensional global models for climate studies: Model I and II. Mon Wea Rev 111:609–662.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Haston L, Michaelsen J (1994) Long-term central coastal California precipitation variability and relationships to El Niño-Southern Oscillation. J Climate 7:1373–1387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Heilman WE (1995) Synoptic circulation and temperature patterns during severe wildland fires. Ninth Conference on Applied Climatology, American Meteorological Society.Google Scholar
  16. Horel JD, Wallace JM (1981) Planetary scale atmospheric phenomenon associated with the southern oscillation. Mon Wea Rev 109:813–829.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Leathers DJ, Yarnal B, Palecki MA (1991) The Pacific/North American teleconnection pattern and United States climate. Part I: Regional temperature and precipitation associations. J Climate 4:517–528.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. McFarlane NA, Boer GJ, Blanchet JP, Lazare M (1992) The Canadian Climate Centre second-generation general circulation model and its equilibrium climate. J Climate 5:1013–1044.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Peterson RM (1982) An Analysis of the Timber Situation in the United States. US Government Printing Office, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  20. Pielke RA, Cotton WR, Walko RL, Tremback CJ, Lyons WA, Grasso LD, Nicholls ME, Moran MD, Wesley DA, Lee TJ, Copeland JH (1992) A comprehensive meteorological modeling system-RAMS. Meteor Atmos Phys 49:69–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Potter BE (1995) Atmospheric stability, moisture, and winds as indicators of wildfire risk. Ninth Conference on Applied Climatology, American Meteorological Society.Google Scholar
  22. Potter BE (1996) Atmospheric properties associated with large wildfires. Int J Wildland Fire, 6(2):71–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Price C, Rind D (1994) The impact of a 2 x CO2 climate on lightning-caused fires. J Climate 7:1484–1494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Quinn WH, Zopf DO, Short KS, Kuo Yang RTW (1978) Historical trends and statistics of the southern oscillation, El Niño, and Indonesian droughts. Fishery Bull 76:663–677.Google Scholar
  25. Ropelewski CF, Halpert MS (1986) North American precipitation and temperature patterns associated with the El Niño/southern oscillation (ENSO). Mon Wea Rev 114:2352–2362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Schroeder MJ, Glovinsky M, Hendricks VF, Hood FC, Hull MK, Jacobson HL, Kirkpatrick R, Krueger DW, Mallory LP, Oertel AG, Reese RH, Sergius LA, Syverson CE (1964) Synoptic weather types associated with critical fire weather. Pac Southwest For Range Exper Stat, Berkeley, CA.Google Scholar
  27. Simard A J, Haines DA, Main WA (1985a) El Niño and wildland fire: An exploratory study. Eighth Conference on Fire and Forest Meteorology, Society of American Foresters.Google Scholar
  28. Simard AJ, Haines DA, Main WA (1985b) Relations between El Niño/southern oscillation anomalies and wildland fire activity in the United States. Agric For Meteor 36:93–104.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Takle ES, Bramer DJ, Heilman WE, Thompson MR (1994) A synoptic climatology for forest fires in the NE US and future implications from GCM simulations. Int J Wildland Fire 4:217–224.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Trenberth KE, Branstator GW, Arkin PA (1988) Origins of the 1988 North American drought. Science 242:1640–1645.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. USDA Forest Service (1992) 1984–1990 Forest fire statistics. USD A For Serv, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  32. Walker GT (1928) World weather III. Mem Roy Meteor Soc 2:97–106.Google Scholar
  33. Wallace JM, Gutzler DS (1981) Teleconnections in the geopotential height field during the Northern Hemisphere winter. Mon Wea Rev 109:784–812.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wyrtki K (1979) El Niño. La Recherche 10:1212–1231.Google Scholar
  35. Yarnal B (1993) Synoptic climatology in environmental analysis: A primer. Belhaven Press, London.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Warren E. Heilman
  • Brian E. Potter
  • John I. Zerbe

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations