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Do wildfires act as fuel treatments by affecting subsequent wildfire severity?

SWFSC

Wednesday, July 26, 2017 from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM (MST)

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Do wildfires act as fuel treatments by affecting subsequent wildfire severity? 

Date: July 26, 2017 11am AZ/12pm MDT
Presenter: Larissa Yocom Kent, Northern Arizona University

We analyzed 552 fires over 1000 acres in size that burned on National Forests in Region 3 (see map below). These fires occurred between 1984 and 2013. Many of these fires overlapped, resulting in hundreds of “reburns”. We sampled fire severity in areas that burned only once, twice, three times, or four times. We restricted our analysis to reburns at least 10 ha (~25 acres) in size.

We found a pattern of decreasing fire severity with the number of times an area burned (see figure above). The first wildfire tended to have highest severity, while second, third, and fourth fires had decreasing fire severity. Although this general pattern suggests that wildfires do act as fuel treatments by decreasing subsequent wildfire severity, this pattern may not hold up in extreme climatic conditions or in all vegetation types.

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