Home
A JFSP Fire Science Exchange Network
Bringing People Together & Sharing Knowledge in the Northern Rockies

Influence of topography and fuels on fire refugia probability under varying fire weather conditions in forests of the Pacific Northwest, USA

Author(s): Garrett W. Meigs, Christopher J. Dunn, Sean A. Parks, Meg A. Krawchuk
Year Published: 2020
Description:

Fire refugia—locations that burn less severely or less frequently than surrounding areas—support late-successional and old-growth forest structure and function. This study investigates the influence of topography and fuels on the probability of forest fire refugia under varying fire weather conditions. We focused on recent large fires in Oregon and Washington, United States (n = 39 fires > 400 ha, 2004–2014). Our objectives were to (1) map fire refugia as a component of the burn severity gradient, (2) quantify the predictability of fire refugia as a function of prefire fuels and topography under moderate and high fire weather conditions, and (3) map the conditional probability of fire refugia to illustrate their spatial patterns in old-growth forests. Fire refugia exhibited higher predictability under relatively moderate fire weather conditions. Prefire live fuels were strong predictors of fire refugia, with higher refugia probability in forests with higher prefire biomass. In addition, fire refugia probability was higher in topographic settings with relatively northern aspects, steep catchment slopes, and concave topographic positions. Conditional probability maps revealed consistently higher fire refugia probability under moderate versus high fire weather scenarios. Results from this study inform conservation planning by determining late-successional forests most likely to persist as fire refugia despite increasing regional fire activity.

Citation: Meigs GW, Dunn CJ, Parks SA, and Krawchuk MA. 2020. Influence of topography and fuels on fire refugia probability under varying fire weather conditions in forests of the Pacific Northwest, USA. Can. J. For. Res. 50: 636–647. dx.doi.org/10.1139/cjfr-2019-0406
Topic(s): Fire Ecology, Ecosystem Changes, Fire History, Fire Regime, Fire Intensity / Burn Severity
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 21597
Record updated: Aug 4, 2020