The New Reality of Wildfire in North America

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Watch at: 00:00 / 00:00:20all right so hi everybody thank you forbeing here we're now officially startingour webinar let me show you my camerawe're starting our webinar the newreality of wildfire in North Americamy name is anneka Sanchez and I'm theWatch at: 00:20 / 00:40digital content manager at Island PressI'm very pleased to bring you thisconversation about the role and thecurrent state of wildfires we encourageyour questions during today'sdiscussions if you would like to ask oneplease enter it on the questions boxthat's on the right side of your webinarpanel your the the moderator is going toWatch at: 00:40 / 01:00be the one to ask it after the panelistspresentations after the webinar you'regoing to receive a brief survey pleasehelp us out by filling it out we'll alsosend you a link to the recording in afew days and we encourage you to shareWatch at: 01:00 / 01:20all of that today's webinar is broughtto you by Island Press Island versus anenvironmental nonprofit book publisherfounded in 1984 our mission is toprovide the best ideas and informationto those seeking to understand andWatch at: 01:20 / 01:40protect the environment and createsolutions to its complex problems weelevate voices of changeChina has spotlight on crucial issuesand focus attention on sustainablesolutions today we are offering you aspecial discount you can use the codewebinar on our website Island presto orWatch at: 01:40 / 02:00RG to save 20% on two books that are by2 or our panelists firestorm by adultstruseq and ecology and recovery of oldeastern growth forests by Andrew Bartonand now I would like to introduce you toWatch at: 02:00 / 02:20our panelists Andrew Barton was raisedin the southern Appalachians he isforest ecology science writer andbiology professor at the university ofmaine up farminghis fieldwork has taken him across theUnited States and to Costa Rica hiscurrent research focuses on the responseWatch at: 02:20 / 02:40of forests to changing climate andwildfire in the American Southwest he'sthe founder of several conservationorganizations and received hisbachelor's from Brown University mastersfrom the University of Florida and PhDfrom the University of MichiganWatch at: 02:40 / 03:00dr. Helen Poulos is a plant ecologistwho examines the influences of naturaland anthropogenic disturbances on plantdistribution patterns Helens workexplores the mechanisms underscoringsuch patterns through the lenses ofplant ecophysiology biogeochemistry andcommunity ecology she has worked inWatch at: 03:00 / 03:20diverse ecosystems and has fieldexperience a field expertise in fireecology rapid assessments restorationecology coastal marine carbonsequestration and aquatic communitydynamics Edwards truseq has been writingabout scientific and environmentalWatch at: 03:20 / 03:40issues for more than 30 years a fellowat the Institute for energy andenvironmental policy a Queen'sUniversity his accolades include theprestigious Atkinson fellowship inpublic policy and the sir SandfordFleming medal for outstandingcontributions to the understanding ofscience as a knight science journalWatch at: 03:40 / 04:00journalism fellow he spent a year atHarvard and MIT doing research with YaleWilson Stephen Jay Gould and RichardLewontin his books include future Arcticand firestorm and he's a regularcontributor to Yale environment 360finally our moderator today will beWatch at: 04:00 / 04:20Jennifer Marlin she is a researchscientist at Yale School of Forestry andenvironmental studies and the Yaleprogram on climate change communicationshe obtained her PhD an MS in geographyfrom the University of Oregondr. Marlin studies perceptions of andresponses to environmental changeWatch at: 04:20 / 04:40particularly relating to climate andextreme weather events she also conductsresearchpaleoecology and paleoclimate usingsediment records and developed theglobal charcoal database her researchhas been published on several journalsand publications I'm happy to hand itover now to Jennifer who will be guidingWatch at: 04:40 / 05:00our conversation today Thank YouJennifer thank you so much okay let'smake sure I'm on I believe I'm on okayum it is great to be here and this is anincredibly timely discussion and set ofbooks and I want to thank you all forWatch at: 05:00 / 05:20joining us I as Eric was just mentioningI've been studying wildfires for abouttwo decades now using charcoal that hasblown and washed into lake sediments andI've been reconstructing fire historiesfrom all over the world and so evenWatch at: 05:20 / 05:40though what's happening right now in theUS and especially in the Westseems unlike anything else it's actuallypart of a broader trend a global trendbecause we've seen release severe firesin Australia in recent years in Europeespecially in the Mediterranean we'veeven seen fires in Greenland which weWatch at: 05:40 / 06:00don't usually see we'll hear a littlebit more about that maybe and Siberiamassive fires in Siberia that havegenerated smoke plumes that are theplume is like the size of the whole subcontinent of Europe and of course in thenews most recently the Amazon fire isburning for two months incredibly severeWatch at: 06:00 / 06:20and just slowing down now because of therains but a lot of people I think wonderare these seemingly distant eventsconnected and if so how and of coursethe answer is yes they are connectedthey're connected by our air and ourclimate system right because the wholeWatch at: 06:20 / 06:40planet is warming the air temperaturesare increasing the land surface iswarming and even the oceans are warmingand a warming planet is going to havemore fire in many places and in fact forme this idea is quite personal becausethis was oneWatch at: 06:40 / 07:00the major conclusions of my owndissertation research that started overa decade ago and I knew back then thatincreasing global temperatures weregoing to cause more fire but I didn'timagine what it was going to look likeand feel like to see people trying toescape burning towns on TV or entireWatch at: 07:00 / 07:20mountain communities being burned to thegroundI couldn't envision that and I certainlycouldn't imagine the cascadingconsequences of multiple extreme firesbreaking record upon record in stateafter state and then last night I'mwatching the news and you know I hearabout P&G PG&E the utility company inWatch at: 07:20 / 07:40California doing the precautionaryblackouts cutting power for over amillion customers to prevent the powerlines from igniting fires during highwinds and I understand they have to theyhave to do this but it really feels likethings are fundamentally changing notWatch at: 07:40 / 08:00just when an event happens now butbefore events after events we hear thatwe hear the term new normal and I thinkabout well what you know what what'swhat's where are we going what are someof the best things that might come outof this and I think the best things thatmight come out of this are lessons rightWatch at: 08:00 / 08:20lessons for the future and we need tounderstand how our actions are affectingthese events if we can at least learnfrom this we can maybe look towardssolutions but people really don'tunderstand the kinds of spillover andcascading effects that are changingWatch at: 08:20 / 08:40climate is causing because there are nomodels I can really tell us what life isgoing to look like in a warmer climateand while it's true that this is not allabout climate change of course there aremany factors causing the changing wildfire regimes we're seeing and we'regoing to hear from our presenters aboutthat but one of the other aspects of myWatch at: 08:40 / 09:00research is to try to understand ourAmericans is the public connecting thedots between global warming andwildfires and based onnationally representative survey data weknow that they are in some places butthey're not in others so in CaliforniaWatch at: 09:00 / 09:20and Colorado for example largemajorities of the public 69 and 66percent respectively believe thatclimate change is increasing theseverity of wildfires in Texas it'sabout 61 percent will say yes globalwarming is is worsening wildfires butyou go to someplace like Ohio for out inWatch at: 09:20 / 09:40eastern states and only 36 percent ofthe people there think wildfires areworse due to global warming sonationally on average it's about half52% say yeah these things are connectedso this highlights a gap in publicawareness and understanding of theWatch at: 09:40 / 10:00relationship between fires and climatechange at least that I thinkcommunicators and educators and themedia and scientists can step in andhelp people understand these connectionsand how our behaviors now are going toaffect fires in the future and I thinkWatch at: 10:00 / 10:20there are many other factors that we'regoing to talk about through thesepresentations and I hope you'll allenter your questions and we can we canexpand the conversation but with that Ilike to transition to our firstpresentation which is actually as Andrewthe first presentation you're going toWatch at: 10:20 / 10:40go first either Android hello minuteokay Andrew thank youWatch at: 10:40 / 11:00oopssorry about that okay I assume everybodycan see what is on my screen right nowand hear me as wellyes right okay well how long am I goingWatch at: 11:00 / 11:20to do a combined presentation to beginwith and Edie will take over and we wantto thank ivan press so much for thisopportunityfor the four of us to talk to everybodyabout wildfires and thanks to everybodyout there for tuning in as well I wouldstart by saying that wildfires are asmuch a part of nature as sunlight waterand air they occur naturally across muchWatch at: 11:20 / 11:40of the of the earth they're an importantpart of people's lives they'reincreasingly front-page newsI think California Alberta Amazonialet's start with a snapshot of wildfiresright now so this image that you can seein front of you is actually the locationof wildfires burning in the UnitedWatch at: 11:40 / 12:00States today here's a map of firesburning across the globe the bottom lineis that we live on a fiery planet andfor tens of millions of years by ourshape the ecology and evolution of theearth it continues to play the keyecological role in many ecosystems andthe lives of many creatures includingWatch at: 12:00 / 12:20humans the problem of course is thathuman activities have now magnifiedwildfire to the point that it has becomea serious problem media coverage offires in North America has improvedgreatly I've been doing fire stuff forseveral decades and compare for exampleto the coverage of the Yellowstone firesWatch at: 12:20 / 12:40in 1988 there is a great improvement inmedia coverage so you read stories likethis that say wildfires are raging partof the trend of more bigger hotter firesclimate change and fire suppression orat least partly to blame and thisnarrative is true enough but even thiskind of story leaves out crucialWatch at: 12:40 / 13:00complexities and so one of our goalstoday is to discuss these complexitiesand howthey might help us understand andaddress the problem of wildfire in NorthAmerica now I want to start with somedefinitions just to make sure everybodyis sort of in the same place to beginWatch at: 13:00 / 13:20with so by wildfire we mean an unplanneduncontrolled fire burning live and deadvegetative fuels wildfires that aregreater than a hundred thousand acresare termed in mega fire and you might besurprised by how many of these megafires occur every year the prescribedfire is a plan control fire set toWatch at: 13:20 / 13:40accomplish very specific goals fuel isanything that burns so for wildfireswe're talking about live and deadvegetative matter a few more definitionswildfires are usually divided into threetypes surface fires burn vegetationthat's on the ground dead and liveeducation on the ground crown fires burnWatch at: 13:40 / 14:00into the canopy and what are calledground fires actually burned burnunderground they burn peat fossil fuelsand other fuels as well we'll reallyfocus on surface fires and crown firestoday our goal really is to start fromfirst principles to and then sort ofWatch at: 14:00 / 14:20build to a conceptual framework abouthow wildfires work in nature and then touse that framework to better understandthe problems that we face and somepossible solutions so let's start byidentifying the requirements for anykind of fire burning any type of fuelwell you need heat or electricity whichWatch at: 14:20 / 14:40is needed to supply some sort of sparkany fuel to burn and then you needoxygen for the combustion process now ifwe apply this to wildfires heat isprovided by lightning or by humanseither planned or accidentally fuel whatwe're talking about our live fuels anddead fuels we can divide those up intoWatch at: 14:40 / 15:00finer ones we can divide them up intotrees shrubs grasses coarse ones fineones etc and then of course oxygen isneeded so the question is if a sparkoccurs what does it take for that fireto catch and to actually spread wellfirst of all the climate and the weatherWatch at: 15:00 / 15:20have to besuch that conditions are dry enough forthe fire to actually catch given thatthere has to be continuous fuel for thefire to burn and to spread so if we putthose two things together we're talkingabout our places where there's enoughdry continuous fuel so the question thenWatch at: 15:20 / 15:40is globally if we want a little bit ofcontext where do fires occur well thereare some places that are too dry tosupport much fuel and there's someplaces that are too wet to actuallycarry a fire so fire is uncommon indeserts and it's supposed to be uncommonin rain forests except of course as weWatch at: 15:40 / 16:00know now with serious human disturbanceas we've seen in Amazonia and as we alsosee in deserts sometimes as well butthere are many places that are actuallyjust right not too dry and not too wetas you can see here so I don't want togo into detail into this figure but hereare places where wildfires occurWatch at: 16:00 / 16:19commonly naturally and we want to sayunnaturally as well um let me just makeone note here there are places that burnnaturally and regularly that areactually fairly moist but they tend tohave a very prominent dry season thatthe Civic Northwest of North America isa really good example and very relevantWatch at: 16:19 / 16:40to the webinar today so that's a placewhere there's a lot of precipitation butthere's also a strong and long dryseason and there's some years where thatdry season is extremely dry given thatmany places have enough dry continuouscool fuel at some time during the yearWatch at: 16:40 / 17:00to support wildfire what determines whatthose fires are actually like in otherwords what controls weather wildfires ina region burners crown fires or surfacefires occur frequently or infrequentlyburn as infernos or mildly and staysmall or spread to become big fires I'mWatch at: 17:00 / 17:20going to turn this over now to tell themto explore this a little bit moregreat drew thank you so much for thatintroduction can everyone hear meso what determines fire behaviorunlike the fire triangle that'sinfluenced by heat oxygen and fuel theWatch at: 17:20 / 17:40fire behavior triangle explains how fireacts after a fires already ignited thefire behavior triangle is similar to thefire triangle in that it's comprised ofthree parts but the parts in this caseinclude weather topography and fuels andunlike the fire triangle the ways inWatch at: 17:40 / 18:00which the three parts of the firebehavior triangle interact is much morecomplex so first let's talk about thefuels at the bottom of this figure afuse composition including its moisturecontent but chemical makeup densitythese are the things that determine thedegree of phlegm ability of fuels theWatch at: 18:00 / 18:20amount of fuels is another driver offire behavior you'll moisture and fuelamount are the most important variablesin this part of the fire triangle wherethe drier the fuels the hotter the fireand the more fuels there are the hotterthe fire as wellso now let's move on to weather weatherconditions include wind temperature andWatch at: 18:20 / 18:40humidity which also contribute to firebehavior they can vary daily seasonallyand annually so you can have one windyday during a fire that makes a fire burnover a vast area or you can have a dryyear that may promote lots of firesregionally finally let's talk abouttypography typography describes theWatch at: 18:40 / 19:00shape of the land and slope steepnessboth of these vary are spatially dynamicbut temporally static influences on firebehavior and what I mean by that isacross a mountain range you can havelarge-scale variation in topographicconditions over short geographicaldistances but that doesn't really changeWatch at: 19:00 / 19:20much from year to year or from fire tofire drinking you forward the slideplease and so here's one example of howtopography can influence by our behaviorslope steepness can determine howquickly a fire will move up or downhills so for example if a fire ignitesat the bottom of a steep slope itWatch at: 19:20 / 19:40spread much more quickly upslope becauseit can preheat the upslope fuels withrising hot air and upward drafts arealso more likely to create spot fires orfires that spread arioli to anotherlocation alternatively fires that starton ridge tops generally creep downhillslowly and burn at lower intensity or atWatch at: 19:40 / 20:00lower temperatures next slide pleaseso now that this slide demonstrates howdifferent parts of the fire triangleinteract by the relationship betweenfuel moisture and fire size and it alsodemonstrates recent changes in thisrelationship over time what you see hereis that fuel moisture drives fire sizeWatch at: 20:00 / 20:20overall fire since 1984 in the westernUnited States but what you also see isthat fuels are drier and fires arebigger in the years since 2000 nextslide pleaseso one of the ways that we canconceptualize how fires work in in aparticular site or in a particularWatch at: 20:20 / 20:40region is through the lens of the fireregime a fire regime characterizeswellfare characteristics that prevail inan area over long periods of timemeaning decades to centuries tomillennia and so we can classify fireregimes using a combination of fire ofcharacteristics including the type whichwould be a surface or a crown fire forWatch at: 20:40 / 21:00example the frequency or how often anyone location on the landscapeexperiences a fire the magnitude whichwould be intensity or as in how hot thefire is or severity as in how muchdamage it does to the vegetation andthen of course fire size how big arethese fires there are othercharacteristics likes fire seasonalityWatch at: 21:00 / 21:20and fire pattern as well next slideplease and so there are two basic typesof fire that fall at the end two ends ofa continuum at the one end are frequentlow severity surface fires meaning thatthey kill few trees these firestypically occur in places like ponderosapine longleaf pine Prairie or grasslandWatch at: 21:20 / 21:40where there are a lot of highly aeratedfuelsacross the surface of the ground andforests with fire regime in with thesefire regimes usually displayeddiscontinuity in the verticalyou'll bet ie surface fuels and crownfuels are vertically separated from eachWatch at: 21:40 / 22:00other under surface fire genes on theother end of the continuum areinfrequent high severity crown firesthey're driven by fuel accumulation overtime since fire and the vegetation typesof experience high severity wildfiregenerally have a continuous horizontaland vertical fuel bed so when I talkabout horizontal I mean across space andWatch at: 22:00 / 22:20when I talk about vertical I mean as youlook up into the canopy next slidepleaseso these two images show what these twodifferent types of fire regimes wouldlook like on the ground so the top imageis a crown fire regime or high severityfires are common over long time periodsthe bottom image depicts a frequentWatch at: 22:20 / 22:40surface fire regime where firestypically burn at low severity in thissystem next slide so what causes thesetwo different types of fire regimes wellthey're driven by differences in thefire behavior triangle surface firesoccur on drier sites where fire weatherpromotes surface fires at frequentWatch at: 22:40 / 23:00intervals those frequent intervalsmaintain low fuel loads in the forestbecause they consume fuels irregularintervals and therefore low severitywildfires are common under frequentsurface fire regimes alternativelyinfrequent stand-replacing fires arecommon on moister sites with morebiomass more productivity and higherWatch at: 23:00 / 23:20fuel loadings in general those fuels aretoo wet to burn but fire weather in aparticular year may dry fuels enough tocombust and when those fuels do combustthey burn a severe stand-replacingwildfires due to the heavy fuel loadingsthat have accumulated on these moisturesites during fire free intervals nextslide pleaseWatch at: 23:20 / 23:40so the continuity and distribution offuels is a major driver of fire regimefires that make it into the forestcanopy burn hotter and have a higherprobability of fire and this isimportant because recent recent changesin fire regime are driven to some degreeby the fuel matrixDru is going to talk about that somemore but recall that fire behaviorWatch at: 23:40 / 24:00triangle that I showed you at thebeginning of my talk the figure depictsin this that you see here depicts howthe vertical distribution of fuelsladder fuels drive fire severity ladderfuels are fuels that are fuels thatconnect the surface and crown fuels andthey're particularly important herebecause they provide this conduit formoving fire from the forest floor to theWatch at: 24:00 / 24:20canopy and once you have a crown fireyou have a high intensity wildfire nextslide and lastly from my perspectivehere before I turn it over to Drew Ialso want to mention that the wildfiresare patchy and so this image shows thenature of landscape fires many fires arealso mixed severity in nature and thisWatch at: 24:20 / 24:40means that a single wildfire can burn asa hot crown fire in some places as acooler surface fire and others and itcan leave some areas unburned when wethink of this from the landscape scaleso plants and trees have also adaptedsorry thank you drewplants and trees and fire adapted for usWatch at: 24:40 / 25:00with a long evolutionary history ofwildfire have developed a range ofadaptations for survival andreproduction in fire dominatedlandscapes so thick bark and selfpruning are the loss of lower branchesby trees are common adaptations tosurface fire regimes thick barkinsulates the trees from loose intensitysurface fire self pruning or the loss ofWatch at: 25:00 / 25:20lower branches by trees reduces theamount of ladder fuels that could move awildfire from the florist forest floorto the canopy thereby reducing theprobability of fire next slide pleaseso when landscapes were crown firesprevalent on the other hand trees havedeveloped other adaptationsthese include cones that require heat toWatch at: 25:20 / 25:40release seeds or sirata knee which isshown on the Left trees with serotinouscones often has Brant have branch as thethe top of the tree in other words theyhave lots of ladder fuels this kills thetree because it promotes crown fire butthese hot fires also open up the conesand promote post fire seedlingestablishment and then anotherWatch at: 25:40 / 26:00adaptation to crown fire is rese prowting from roots that survive fire asshown on the rightthis image shows that the tree was topkilled by the fire you can see that inthe dead stems at the top of the pictureand it shows Rhys Prout's that haveregenerated after the fire from rootsystems that survived the fire event sowith that I'll turn it over to Drew totalk about increased wildfire activityWatch at: 26:00 / 26:20we think that understanding thisconceptual framework of fire regimes andadaptation to specific fire regimes isreally essential to understanding howfire activity is changing and whatpossible solutions there might be toWatch at: 26:20 / 26:40deal with some of the problemsassociated with those changes so whatI'd like to start by doing is to examineand a little bit more detail howwildfire activity is changing here's agood example so this shows the number oflarge wildfires on u.s. Forest Serviceland and the western US and it showsthat there's been a considerableWatch at: 26:40 / 27:00increase in the number of these largewildfires over the last several decadesother studies show increases in thetotal number of fires a total acreage inin the United States and in Canadaacreage of high severity fires and moreit is important to point out howeverthat these results do vary a lot fromWatch at: 27:00 / 27:20one place to another one region from oneregion to another from one ecosystemtype from another so that there are moreincreases in fire activity in someplaces than in other places and some ofthat can be explained by the conceptualkind of model that that we presentedhere that is what would the natural fireregime be in those places so let'sWatch at: 27:20 / 27:40explore that in a little bit more detailby asking the question of what causeswhat is causing this increase in fireactivity climate change and firesuppression probably is most you know ortwo of the largest contributors thereare other well such as insect outbreaksbut we'll focus on climate change andWatch at: 27:40 / 28:00fire so we go back to our simple modelof the factors controlling fire behaviorwe conclude that climate change andsuppression alter fundamental behaviorthey interact but for now let's try toseparate them at least to some extent tolook at the independent impact of atleast climate change to begin with andWatch at: 28:00 / 28:20then we'll look at fire suppression sowhat climate change does is of course ithas an impact on that leg of thistriangle to the left arm we have strongevidence that climate change is causinghotter drier whenyour conditions and even in some placesmore lightning strikes and that this isincreasing wildfire let's look in aWatch at: 28:20 / 28:40little more detail and provide a littlebit of evidence about that this graphwill help us look specifically at thecontribution of climate change toincrease fire activity look at thedotted line on the Left graph whichshows the area burned in the westernUnited States over the past severaldecades so you can see that it hasWatch at: 28:40 / 29:00increased so you already know about thatthe colored part of the graph shows whatthat increase in burned acreage wouldlook like without climate change and thegraph on the right shows with climatechangeso this graph the two graphs togethershare two things more wildfires orWalker activity that is and that climateWatch at: 29:00 / 29:20change is responsible for about one halfof that at least in the western part ofthe United States now let's turn ourattention now to fire suppression firesuppression explains a large portion ofthe rest of the increase in law fireactivity although there are again otherfactors such as I said before insectWatch at: 29:20 / 29:40outbreaks but let's just focus on firesuppression here so fire suppression canincrease the amount of dead fuel thatwould normally burn and allow more treesto establish and to grow it can alsogreatly increase the continuity of fuelsso as Helen described earlier so thatfires can spread more easily bothWatch at: 29:40 / 30:00horizontally across the landscape andvertically from the surface into theCrown's now it turns out to be a littlebit more complicated than that howeverinfrequent surface fire regimes which isthe focus of this slide that scenario iscertainly playing out and there'sabundant evidence of that so forWatch at: 30:00 / 30:20millennia frequent surface fires keptfuels at relatively low levels thenactive fire suppression combined withgrazing largely halted that naturalthinning of fuels and so combined withclimate change this is leading to atransition to more severe often frequentWatch at: 30:20 / 30:40crown fires but it's a little bit morecomplicated in places that are naturallycharacterized by infrequentcrown fire regimes some of these placesburned only once in a hundred years so acentury of fire suppression did not havethe same has not had the same impact asinfrequent surface fire regimes andWatch at: 30:40 / 31:00these ecosystems the impact of puttingout fires is really variable it dependson the actual background frequency offire and some other things as well let'sturn our attention now given that weknow kind of how fire activity haschanged we have a conceptual frameworkto some possible solutions to theseWatch at: 31:00 / 31:20wildfire problems I'll turn it back overto Helen for that thanks drew so whatshould we do about these recent changesin fire behavior here I offer a few waysin which we might combat the issue so asJennifer talked about at the beginningof this talk mitigating climate changeWatch at: 31:20 / 31:40seems like an obvious one right but thatis a very tall order that all of us aretrying to figure out how to addresskeeping global warming to two degreesCelsius as the Intergovernmental Panelon Climate change's fifth assessmentreport begs for is a step in the rightdirection however doing that will reallycreate it will really take a globallyWatch at: 31:40 / 32:00coordinated effort and it's reallycomplicated to figure out how tomitigate climate change to reducewildfires globally there are some othertools however that managers have attheir fingertips and those includethings like prescribed fire and forestthinning that are being amis are beingapplied widely today to lower wildfireWatch at: 32:00 / 32:20risk about across both federal andprivate lands alike thinning andprescribed fire around habitations tolower fire risk is another possibilitydefensible space in the wildland urbaninterface is a major fire managementconcern and then of course there's theload of burn policy which can beeffective in remote areas where humanWatch at: 32:20 / 32:39lives and livelihoods are not threatenedby wildfire and so managers really havefew tools to deal with the increasingprevalence of wildfire however theserepresents some of the potential optionsfor mitigating the risk of wildfireacross these areas that are experiencingheightened wildfire activity like slideWatch at: 32:39 / 33:00pleaseand so this slide is really one exampleof a way to mitigate fire risk that'sbeing applied widely todaynote how thinning changes both thevertical and his horizontal continuityof fuels that's the main idea behindboth prescribed fire and forest thinningto change the amount and distribution ofWatch at: 33:00 / 33:20fuels to lower fire risk this is commonin fire suppress areas however it's lesseffective for locations that are adaptedto crown fire mostly because fires tendto burn hot they're based on foreststructure remember there's little selfpruning that occurs and crown firedominated systems so thinning doesn't domuch to change the forest structure inWatch at: 33:20 / 33:39crown fire systems and reduce fire riskalso remember that thinning is asurrogate for fire in other words itdoesn't scarify the soil or remove manyof the fire fuels that are responsiblefor fire spread next slide pleaseand you know there are a lot ofconstraints it's really operationallydifficult to do this work and peopleWatch at: 33:39 / 34:00don't always like prescribed fires intheir backyards they don't like smokeand thinning is really a labor intensiveand requires a lot of machinery and italso costs a lot of money and so theprojections are really for a warmer andWatch at: 34:00 / 34:20drier climate with more fuel and someplace it's not all and larger hotter andmore frequent fires next slide and sohere is a simulation or an animation toshow you the change in fire centerseverity over the past several decadesin Canada and into the future and theseWatch at: 34:20 / 34:40climate models show an increase ofprevalent and prevalence of Arcticwildfires as human warming into itcontinues to advance in the Arctic thiscentury fire severity will likelyincrease therefore with these increasedtemperatures next slide and so what arethe projections in terms of fireWatch at: 34:40 / 35:00activity well they can be variedignition wise their more lightening isgoing to lead to more fires and morepeople on the planet ashuman population increases will alsolead to mortgage ignitions and more firefuel loads will increase due to highercarbon dioxide levels higherWatch at: 35:00 / 35:20temperatures have more rainfall but itcould also degrees in some areas where adecrease excuse me in some areas andvegetation types as a result of highertemperatures and less rain fuelconditions higher temperatures anddecreasing rainfall will increase by ouractivity while more rain in summers willdecrease by our activity talking aboutWatch at: 35:20 / 35:40whether higher temperatures will greatlyincrease fire activity so obviously fromthe slide and from our talk you can seethat this is a complex ellipse scenariowith that these factors have beenvarying effects around the world whereclimate change affects local areasdifferently and because differentvegetation types have specific responsesto changes in weather so with that thankWatch at: 35:40 / 36:00you for your time and we'll go ahead andturn it over to Ed thanks that was greatI'm gonna come at this from a publicpolicy point of view and describe asbest as I can in 12 minutes what aWatch at: 36:00 / 36:20hundred and twenty years of publicpolicy how it got us here and wherewe're gonna go in the future and I'mgonna start this presentation off withwhat Helen and Drew started off withwith the fire triangle and this willcome up later this will make sense lateron in my presentation okayWatch at: 36:20 / 36:40wildfire before us Europeans arrived onthe scene you know according to let mejust if I can just sorry both this weseem to be frozen okay sorry about thatWatch at: 36:40 / 37:00I'm afraid my screen is frozen okay okaybefore Europeans arrived on the sceneWatch at: 37:00 / 37:20sorry about this charcoal layers andsediments and methane concentration andice cores showed that the amount ofglobal burning fluctuated droppeddramatically over time and thosecharcoal records derived from lakesediments and Peet's at hundreds ofplaces around the world show a distinctlowland burning from about 1600 to 1750Watch at: 37:20 / 37:40and that lull and fire occurred duringthe Little Ice Age when temperatures inNorth America Britain and Scandinaviadropped by about one to two degreesCelsius but fire still burned on thelandscape during the Little Ice Agelightning strikes accounted for anunknown a significant number of firesbefore the arrival of Europeans andWatch at: 37:40 / 38:00presumably many of these fires loomedlarge because resources were not thereto suppress them humans were also partof the fire equation we know thisbecause indigenous people routinely litfires to clear the land in order toattract gain and to nurture the growthof berries and root vegetables we didn'tWatch at: 38:00 / 38:20like it and I'm talking about Europeanshere we thought this is just a horriblething that they were doing it is mostlamentable to see so often such massesof valuable timber destroyed almostinvariably by wanton carelessness andmischief unfortunately the Indians havea most disastrous habit of setting thePrairie on fire for the most trivial andWatch at: 38:20 / 38:40worse than usual reasons John Sullivanof the Palliser expedition was not alonein saying that people like Thoreau alsothought lighting fires was a bad ideaand he actually lit one at Walden Pondin Massachusetts was his famous readtreat and but then he had a change ofWatch at: 38:40 / 39:00heart when he saw the forestregenerating fairly quickly and heconcluded that I have set fire to theforest but I have done no wrong thereinand now it is as if the Lightning haddone it these flames are but consumingtheir natural food Thoreau was the headof his time most of the early settlersWatch at: 39:00 / 39:20came from Great Britain where there werefew if any wild fires ofsignificance and they arrived at a timewhen that little ice age brought coolwet weather to the east coast of NorthAmerica but then a new reality unfoldsas the little ice age starts peteringout higher temperatures and morelightning that came with it set theWatch at: 39:20 / 39:40stage for big fires and forestedlandscapes that were rapidly filling upwith people and people we know startfires a big fires such as Miramichiwhich burned in Maine and New Brunswickin 1825 was inevitable and it was a bigfire ten times bigger than the biggestfire that's burned in California thusWatch at: 39:40 / 40:00far no one knew how to deal with a firehis biggest mirror musci people werehelpless and we know this from some ofthe descriptions back from that timehere's one those fortunate enough to benear a river took refuge in the wateroften trying to coax their cows and pigswith them the livestock were panicked byWatch at: 40:00 / 40:20the smoke and the flames and refused toenter most of them succumbed to the heatand smoke wild animals had no such fearof water the humans and the river foundthemselves surrounded by wildlifeincluding raccoons deer bears and evenlarge moose and then big fires followedWatch at: 40:20 / 40:40with increasing frequency what thePeshtigo fire of 1871 killed between1500 and 2400 people over a millionacres burn the Hinkley fire in northernMinnesota in 1894 418 people dead theporcupine wildfire in Northern Ontario200 dead half million acres burned andWatch at: 40:40 / 41:00then the one that really changed thecourse of fire history in North Americathe Great Fire of 1910 there's boatapproximately an estimate of seventeenhundred and thirty six small fires weresmoldering in northern Idaho and westernMontana that very hot dry summer andthen in August hurricane-force windsWatch at: 41:00 / 41:20blew in three million acres burned injust three days 86 people died and a lotmore would have died had not themilitary and the railroad companies comein to save them by this time peoplestarted to thinking that maybe we haveto have a different relationship with fire one of them wasCalifornia timber harvester George HoxieWatch at: 41:20 / 41:40he wasn't alonebut he said it best when he had he saidwe had best adopt fire as our servantotherwise it will be our master andHoxie suggested that we do what theindigenous people did light small firesto reduce the amount of fuel that couldburn in the forest the State Engineer ofWatch at: 41:40 / 42:00California was in favorite a lot oftimber owners were in favor of it theSouthern Pacific Railroad was in favorof it he may have prevailed had a fourthelement not been added to the firetriangle following the big burn of 1910and that's why I put it here politicsthe big burn of 1910 ignited a cultureWatch at: 42:00 / 42:20of wildfire suppression politicallysomething had to be done to adapt tothis new realityHenry Graves who was a u.s. ForestService chief from 1910 to 1920 said thefire forest fire protection is the firstmeasure necessary for the successfulpractice of forestry and that thedoctrine of light burning is nothingWatch at: 42:20 / 42:40less than the advocacy of forestdestruction and those who preached thedoctrine have a large share ofresponsibility for fires which theirinfluences caused his successor WilliamGreeley vowed that a fire like the onein 1910 would never happen againwildfire was a menace prescribed burninghe said was evil fire prevention is theWatch at: 42:40 / 43:00number one job of American foresters inthe decades that followed the number ofstrategies were implemented to reducethe amount of fire on the landscape thefirst thing we did well we kicked out adigitus people out of our national parkssuch as Yellowstone and Yosemite as wellas Banff and Jasper and in some placesWatch at: 43:00 / 43:20if they were caught lighting fireoutside of the parks they were fined amore organized institutionalized forestfire strategy was put into placeFerdinand Silcox who was Forest Servicechief from 1933 to 1939 came up with aquick action strategy was adopted byCanada as well all fires were to beWatch at: 43:20 / 43:40controlled by 10:00 a.m. of the dayfollowing discovery fire lookouts werebuilt to detect firesHelia grafts were used by Rangers tosend fire messages by means of a mirrorand the sun's rays tree phones were usedto communicate the location of a fire aWatch at: 43:40 / 44:00wildfire control center dispatchfirefighters by foot by horse by truckby boat by rail car on hand levered pumptrolleys by train and then the 1933 theu.s. established the CivilianConservation Corps as a make-workWatch at: 44:00 / 44:20program during the Depression it wasnicknamed Roosevelt's tree army between1933 and 1942 6.5 million days werespent fighting forest fires the RoyalCanadian Air Force after the first worldwar and after the Second World War wordapplied deployed to find fires the USWatch at: 44:20 / 44:40Forest established their own Air Patrolunit we had smoke jumpers were deployedto flight to fight fires in the US andcivilians on both sides of the borderwere encouraged to participateadvertising was used to demonize firesthis was very common at the time andSmokey the Bear as we all know becameWatch at: 44:40 / 45:00the North American symbol of the effortto promote forest fire provisionprevention and finally science addedsophistication to fire suppressionstrategies the results between 1920 and1950 by one estimate 10 to 50 millionacres burned annually in the US by theWatch at: 45:00 / 45:201950s annual burn area was as low as 1.9million acres the century long demeandemonization of fire continued right upuntil 1988 when the US National ParkService allowed lightning triggers firesto burn in Yellowstone the timing wasunfortunate because it ended up beingWatch at: 45:20 / 45:40the hottest driest summer on record the240 fires that burn that summer put fearin the hearts of decision makers and apublic that had all but forgotten or hadnever heard of the Great Fire of 1910President Reagan dismissed therelatively new let burn policy inYellowstone as KhomeiniWatch at: 45:40 / 46:00his second terior separated a secretarydescribed it as observed and he orderednational park officials to fight allfires from that point on the Yellowstonefires made it on the front page of everymajor newspaper in the United Stateseveryone thought a national icon wasdestroyed never to return to itsWatch at: 46:00 / 46:20original state but time proved them tobe wrong grizzly bears and black bearsimmediately moved back into the burnareas to feed on carrion fire beetlesmoved in to lay their eggs on warmstumps night Hawks and woodpeckers fedon the beetles owls nested in snagsfeeding their chicks rodents that wereWatch at: 46:20 / 46:40more exposed in fire scarred areas Aspenshoots shot up even as the firesmoldered elk and bison moved in to feedon Aspen shoots and the canoe firsttrees followed grizzly bears fattened upon roots and berries that thrived inburned-out areas where the Sun was ableto shine through to the ground 30 yearsWatch at: 46:40 / 47:00later it is hard to detect evidence ofthat fire but it gets more complicatedand as as Helen and drew had pointed outearlier about climate change that's thenew reality that comes into play and wesolved from their graph we can see itfrom this graph it's getting hotter andWatch at: 47:00 / 47:20as hotter it gets we're getting morelightning in some places extendeddroughts disease and the pests that comewith them and the higher temperaturesmore lightning drought disease pests aswell as higher winds in some places andan increasing number of people inforested landscapes began testing thelimits of firefighting resources andWatch at: 47:20 / 47:40since then destructive fires have beenburning more often and in increasinglyunpredictable ways look at the KenanBerra wildfire of 2003 it produced an f2tornado and black hail at energyequivalent to a 22 kilotons of tnt morethan Hiroshima atomic bomb on May 4thWatch at: 47:40 / 48:002016 the Horse River fire near FortMcMurray in Alberta burns so hot itcreated its own thunderstorm on a bluesky day lightning from that pyro CBignited the cluster of fires more than20miles from the fire front no one everWatch at: 48:00 / 48:20had ever seen anything like it in 2015 aslow-moving thunderstorm in Alaska shotout 62,000 lightning strikes in fivedays triggering 286 fires again no oneever seen no one had ever seen anythinglike it and then in August 2017 headsWatch at: 48:20 / 48:40were really spinning when five pyroSeabee events occurred in just fivehours almost simultaneously inWashington State and in British Columbiaand since then we've seen pyro Seabeesin places like Texas Portugal SouthAfrica Argentina and western Russiawhere they've never been seen beforeWatch at: 48:40 / 49:00it's becoming an immense challenge forforest fire fighters for national parksand protected area officials for waterquality have a look at this this isCameron Falls and waterton national parkon the Alberta Montana border waterflows out of Montana crystal clear overWatch at: 49:00 / 49:20to this fall it's a great touristattraction that's one year before theKino fire that burned in water didn't Ithink in 2018 look what happened a yearafter a thunderstorm what happened tothe will Falls then it flowed black fornearly a day do we have time to dealWatch at: 49:20 / 49:40with this well drew and Helen had showedyou their graph here's another one fromDan that all shows that we'reprojecting a fairly major increase infire in the future the house is gonnaplay out well from a public policy pointof view we've got to consider changes inforest structure water quality may beWatch at: 49:40 / 50:00degraded fish populations could sufferold-growth forest animals may beimpacted they're gonna be highwayclosures visit the national parks can becurtailed timber harvesting may berestricted communities and governmentassets will be threatened and as we seethis week in California there may beWatch at: 50:00 / 50:20blackouts air quality is also going toworsen threatening Public Healthbusiness as usual is not an optionit's prohibitively costly right now tocontinue with the status quo Californiajust set up a wildfire fun of 21 billiondollars to deal with damage claimsWatch at: 50:20 / 50:40business as usual it's not going to besuccessful so I'm saying in thispresentation on appealing to decisionmakers is that we've got choices to makewe can have the good fire the manageablefire or we're gonna have a lot of uglyfires down the road thanks a lot thankWatch at: 50:40 / 51:00you so much and and drew in Holland thatwas really interestingwe have a few minutes for questions Iencourage people to enter questions intothe chat box and we can pick them outand maybe if the presenters would liketo turn on their webcams people can seeWatch at: 51:00 / 51:20us and I would like to just kick off aquestion I have because I'm in thinkingabout the history and that you justshowed it reminds me that even though itdoesn't seem like it people's attitudesdid change even very deeply heldWatch at: 51:20 / 51:40fundamental attitudes towards fire andit seems to me that with these extremeevents going on and you know what'shappening in California and even frompolling data we know that people'sattitudes are changing and I'm wonderingif if any of you actually in talking topeople on the ground working with fireWatch at: 51:40 / 52:00or dealing with its impacts do you feellike there is a will it change the waywe think about fire is there sort of adrive and a motivation what what are youhearing when you talk to people doingthe research that you're doing well frommy perspective what I find moreWatch at: 52:00 / 52:20interesting is that the attitudes thathave really changed and the leaders inmoving forward are those indigenouspeople that we told not to light firesand you see it in western United Statesand Western Canada is on reserve landsthey're thinning their force much moreWatch at: 52:20 / 52:40rapidly and doing a lot of prescribedburning much more rapidly thanoutside of the national parks becausethey understand the nature of fire thegood nature of fire whereas I think thata lot of people still are having troublewith trouble with it national parks forexample let's say in Banff and Jasperand Canada are still reluctant to doWatch at: 52:40 / 53:00prescribed burning at any time of theyear they tried to do it in the shoulderseasons where it doesn't affect tourismI think that's a bad strategy because itreally does handcuff those fire managersin those areas thank you I have aquestion here from someone listeningWatch at: 53:00 / 53:20about how do we approach these ideas inforests that are really being managed toproduce timber how do you deal with thatthat seeming conflict to anybody who hasthoughts about this and actually there'sWatch at: 53:20 / 53:40also a broader question as to any advicein fact on how to manage force tosupport adaptation to these changingfire regimes you know whether that'sthinking about your species mix or otherthings you can do why can't you knowWatch at: 53:40 / 54:00you're muted I think so I would say thata lot of these forests are being onfederal and private lands that are beingused for that are being managed fortimber for example lots and lots ofForest Service lands in the UnitedStates are being managed using the kindsWatch at: 54:00 / 54:20of tools that I talked about includingprescribed fire and thinning and andactually there is um and and so so it'sand they're also these kinds ofactivities are also being done to alarge scale on private lands as well andI have quite a few colleagues in thePacific Northwest for example who areworking with landowners to actuallyWatch at: 54:20 / 54:40implement different types of adaptationstrategies in the face of climate changein terms of thinking about how to manageforests in a hotter warmer a warmerdrier more fiery environment andso that's very much on the forefront ofthe way that managers and privateWatch at: 54:40 / 55:00landowners are thinking about the futuretrajectory of forest management andespecially in the western United Statesthe Challenger sorry I was just going tosay the challenge of course is that isto try to to mimic actual disturbanceWatch at: 55:00 / 55:20regimes as a restoration tool so don'tjust go in and thin the whole forest butthin the forest to create an array ofclustered and uncluttered groups oftrees that met that mimics that sort ofnatural distribution patterns of how aforest would look and so and that'shappening in both in areas that areunmanaged in areas that are alsoWatch at: 55:20 / 55:40harvested for timber I think that whatwhat they're also finding is that intrying to plant trees to compensate forwhat might be lost in the forest fireclimate change is having an impact thereas well because there we're nowWatch at: 55:40 / 56:00beginning to see some major failures inthe replanting because it's just too hotand dry for some of these seedlings tocome up and it's a question it's achallenge I think that we're going toface increasingly down the road is howdo you deal with it what kind of forestsare you going to have say 20 30 or 40years from now so the lack ofWatch at: 56:00 / 56:20regeneration of Seabreeze is that due towarmer temperatures and drier conditionsor is that because the fires are burninghotter there's some question about arefires actually burning hotter or is itthat the climate that the seedlings arecoming back into is changing or is itboth either well if you look at the IWatch at: 56:20 / 56:40don't know if you can see it on thescreen but there's a picture there of ascientist in Wood Buffalo National Parkwhich burns so hot and so burned sodeeply in the Duff that the pine forestthat was there is not likely going toregenerate for maybe a hundred even 200Watch at: 56:40 / 57:00years because there's just no nutrientsin the soil I mean this is a widespreadunfortunately but I think we'rebeginning to see it happen moremore often and that's something to watchout for so I think through all this isyour muted but I think he has it wasWatch at: 57:00 / 57:20trying to say something to that effectno okay hope you're still needed tomaybe mean onion here we gooh and I work a lot in the AmericanSouthwest and in there I would say thatit's hard to generalize why there's notWatch at: 57:20 / 57:40regeneration of certain species althoughwe have some ideas about what's going onso in some cases the fires are so bigthat there aren't seed sources closeenough for regeneration in other casesit seems to be that species such asconifers Pines especially are not veryWatch at: 57:40 / 58:00well adapted they're adapted to frequentsurface fire regimes they're not verywell adapt as crown fires so they'rekilled they're trying to come back fromseed and combination probably of thosecharacteristicsvery well adapted to crown fires anddrier conditions there's a long termdrought in the southwest are allWatch at: 58:00 / 58:20combining to make it difficult for someof those species to regenerate so Iwould say it's hard to generalize but wehave a lot of the pieces of the puzzleright now it's a very active area ofresearch trying to figure this out thankyouthere's a question about the last graphWatch at: 58:20 / 58:40that drew and Helen showed with thearrows going some going up some goingdown you know how rainfall andvegetation affects the future of firesand one of the things that I don't thinkI saw on that graph was populationbecause of course population isincreasing and in people we love to setfires whether accidentally orWatch at: 58:40 / 59:00intentionally and so is that yet anotherfactor that is leading our more humancost ignitionsoccurring and making fires more timeabsolutely so human ignitions are therequite a few recent papers that aredocumenting this on the large scale soWatch at: 59:00 / 59:20it's not just that the climate isgetting warmer thatbut people are a major and they alwayshappen people have always been a majorignition source of wildfires across theglobe as long as people have been on theplanet and so as you well know generalhaven't done and so the increasingpopulation is only going to make fireWatch at: 59:20 / 59:40beget fires the other problem is is thatin terms of public policy we've allowedthese people to move into these forestenvironments without changing saybuilding codes people are still buildinghouses with cedar shake shingles andsidings their landscaping their gardensWatch at: 59:40 / 01:00:00as they would say in Washington DC orNew York Citywell not New York City but you know withthe ornamental junior's highlycombustible plants and so we're laggingin the areas we're not making thesecommunities that are moving into theforest more resilient to two fires so IWatch at: 01:00:00 / 01:00:20think that's the other problem that wehave at play so how do we do this Ithink this is exactly right there'sanother question relating to this how dowe have these difficult conversationsabout the economics of you knowimproving of our building codes and youknow doing things that are toughWatch at: 01:00:20 / 01:00:40initially but are essential in the longterm if we don't I mean the costs areare skyrocketing as as we're mentioningit's just it's not sustainable to keepdoing what we're doing what are thatwhat are how do you approach this howdid how do we think about this I knowWatch at: 01:00:40 / 01:01:00because the perfect answer but I couldjust use one example is that San Diegohas power right now because they'reburying most of their utility lines SanFrancisco with PG&E didn't they talkedabout it but they determined that it wastoo costly and I think they might bequestioning whether or not that was aWatch at: 01:01:00 / 01:01:20good decision because you can't have ahalf a million people or plus withoutpower for an extended period of time sothat's one small thing there's a heck ofa lot of others so I don't know how weare on timesee it's 431 if we have a hard deadlineor if we go for another minute we couldWatch at: 01:01:20 / 01:01:40go maybe one more minute okay let's seeso I think one of the things I'mwondering if there was one thing thatyou could explain to the public andmaybe that includes natural resourcemanager something that you can tell themWatch at: 01:01:40 / 01:02:00about fire that they may don't know orprobably don't know what would it bewhat would you encourage people to talkabout if they're going to talk aboutthis issue I might say that we'reprobably gonna have to tolerate someWatch at: 01:02:00 / 01:02:20discomfort maybe more smoke than we wantwe're gonna have to get used to firehopefully good fires in order to kind ofcarry out some of the solution and we'regonna have to get used to someexperimentation that's really hearingWatch at: 01:02:20 / 01:02:40using this context but I think there'sthings some creative thinking I add tothat is that we've got to change ourperception about fire as well andregarded as a meteorological event likeWatch at: 01:02:40 / 01:03:00a hurricane and tornado that cannot becontrolledonce it gets beyond sayeth 10,000 acresin size and I recall the fire chief fromthe city of Los Angeles came to a talkthat I gave UCLA and he someone askedWatch at: 01:03:00 / 01:03:20them you know what do you need to beable to control a fire the next firethat comes along because you know we'rewilling to pay higher taxes for that andhe said ma'am the only thing that'sgoing to stop Santana driven fire is thePacific OceanWatch at: 01:03:20 / 01:03:40maybe things out there in the contextthat have fireworks in relationship toour living space so defensible space forexample is really important in terms ofthinking about building design as onebut thinking about when you have yourhome next to a forest that canpotentially burn you need to think aboutWatch at: 01:03:40 / 01:04:00making that home have a barrier betweenit have to have discontinuity in thefuel bed right so the fire stops beforeit gets to your house right and andthere are lots of other kinds of sort ofadaptation strategies where we can be amore resilient population thinking aboutliving in a fiery future to try toWatch at: 01:04:00 / 01:04:19minimize the damages so for example inParadise having one Road in and out ofyour town is maybe not the best way ifyou're thinking about fire risk and lossof human livelihoods so we need to thinksmarter in terms of thinking about firebeing a part of our future and thinkabout how we're going to live in thatWatch at: 01:04:19 / 01:04:40environment yeah very good thoughtsthank you all I think we are out of timehere really enjoyed this conversationthank you everyoneyou

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