The climate is changing. As a result, the frequency and severity of wildfires is increasing throughout much of the West. In addition, climate change is altering the way that ecosystems recover after wildfires. Scientists are concerned that the changes in wildfire and recovery patterns will force ecosystems over critical thresholds – so called tipping points – wherein the dominant vegetation permanently shifts from forests to shrubs. The 25-million acre (10 million hectare) Klamath region of Oregon and California is an area of particular concern. Such a shift in the Klamath would impair its unparalleled botanical diversity (e.g. there are 29 species of conifer trees in the Klamath!) and release massive amounts of greenhouse gases as some of the most carbon dense forests in North America transition to low-carbon shrub-chaparral. 

The scientists working on this project will evaluate the potential for a critical transition in the Klamath and collaborate directly with the U.S. Forest Service to identify robust strategies for ecosystem management in the face of climate change. Including the participation of Forest Service decision-makers, who manage 80% of the Klamath region, will ensure the transparency and credibility of the science, thereby increasing its impact on environmental outcomes.

Recent News and Blog

  • Our Klamath paper featured on OPB! https://www.opb.org/news/article/wildfire-trees-study-research-replanting/#.W-Y8XAGvSqF.twitter
    Posted Nov 10, 2018, 7:16 AM by Melissa Lucash
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This work is a collaborative effort of five institutions.  Funding was provided by The National Science Foundation.