Fire and Landscape Mosaics
Increasing wildfire activity in forests worldwide has driven urgency in understanding current and future fire regimes. Spatial patterns of area burned at high severity strongly shape forest resilience and constitute a key dimension of fire regimes, yet remain difficult to predict. To characterize the range of burn severity patterns expected within contemporary fire regimes, we quantified scaling relationships relating fire size to patterns of burn severity. Using 1615 fires occurring across the Northwest United States between 1985 and 2020, we evaluated scaling relationships within fire regimes and tested whether relationships vary across space and time. Patterns of high-severity fire demonstrate consistent scaling behaviour; as fire size increases, high-severity patches consistently increase in size and homogeneity. Scaling relationships did not differ substantially across space or time at the scales considered here, suggesting that as fire-size distributions potentially shift, stationarity in patch-size scaling can be used to infer future patterns of burn severity.