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Selection: Abatzoglou:JT [7 articles] 

Publications by author Abatzoglou:JT.

Switching on the Big Burn of 2017

Fire, Vol. 1, No. 1. (05 June 2018), 17,


Fuel, aridity, and ignition switches were all on in 2017, making it one of the largest and costliest wildfire years in the United States (U.S.) since national reporting began. Anthropogenic climate change helped flip on some of these switches rapidly in 2017, and kept them on for longer than usual. Anthropogenic changes to the fire environment will increase the likelihood of such record wildfire years in the coming decades. The 2017 wildfires in the U.S. constitute part of a shifting baseline ...


Human-Related Ignitions Increase the Number of Large Wildfires across U.S. Ecoregions

Fire, Vol. 1, No. 1. (27 January 2018), 4,


Large fires account for the majority of burned area and are an important focus of fire management. However, ‘large’ is typically defined by a fire size threshold, minimizing the importance of proportionally large fires in less fire-prone ecoregions. Here, we defined ‘large fires’ as the largest 10% of wildfires by ecoregion (n = 175,222 wildfires from 1992 to 2015) across the United States (U.S.). Across ecoregions, we compared fire size, seasonality, and environmental conditions (e.g., wind speed, fuel moisture, biomass, vegetation ...


Human-started wildfires expand the fire niche across the United States

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Vol. 114, No. 11. (14 March 2017), pp. 2946-2951,


[Significance] Fighting wildfires in the United States costs billions of dollars annually. Public dialog and ongoing research have focused on increasing wildfire risk because of climate warming, overlooking the direct role that people play in igniting wildfires and increasing fire activity. Our analysis of two decades of government agency wildfire records highlights the fundamental role of human ignitions. Human-started wildfires accounted for 84% of all wildfires, tripled the length of the fire season, dominated an area seven times greater than that affected ...


Climate change presents increased potential for very large fires in the contiguous United States

International Journal of Wildland Fire, Vol. 24, No. 7. (2015), pp. 892-899,


Very large fires (VLFs) have important implications for communities, ecosystems, air quality and fire suppression expenditures. VLFs over the contiguous US have been strongly linked with meteorological and climatological variability. Building on prior modelling of VLFs (>5000 ha), an ensemble of 17 global climate models were statistically downscaled over the US for climate experiments covering the historic and mid-21st-century periods to estimate potential changes in VLF occurrence arising from anthropogenic climate change. Increased VLF potential was projected across most historically fire-prone ...


Impact of anthropogenic climate change on wildfire across western US forests

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (10 October 2016), 201607171,


[Significance] Increased forest fire activity across the western United States in recent decades has contributed to widespread forest mortality, carbon emissions, periods of degraded air quality, and substantial fire suppression expenditures. Although numerous factors aided the recent rise in fire activity, observed warming and drying have significantly increased fire-season fuel aridity, fostering a more favorable fire environment across forested systems. We demonstrate that human-caused climate change caused over half of the documented increases in fuel aridity since the 1970s and doubled the ...


Recent advances and remaining uncertainties in resolving past and future climate effects on global fire activity

Current Climate Change Reports, Vol. 2, No. 1. (2016), pp. 1-14,


Fire is an integral component of the Earth system that will critically affect how terrestrial carbon budgets and living systems respond to climate change. Paleo and observational records document robust positive relationships between fire activity and aridity in many parts of the world on interannual to millennial timescales. Observed increases in fire activity and aridity in many areas over the past several decades motivate curiosity as to the degree to which anthropogenic climate change will alter global fire regimes and subsequently ...


Changes in climatic water balance drive downhill shifts in plant species' optimum elevations

Science, Vol. 331, No. 6015. (2011), pp. 324-327,


Uphill shifts of species' distributions in response to historical warming are well documented, which leads to widespread expectations of continued uphill shifts under future warming. Conversely, downhill shifts are often considered anomalous and unrelated to climate change. By comparing the altitudinal distributions of 64 plant species between the 1930s and the present day within California, we show that climate changes have resulted in a significant downward shift in species' optimum elevations. This downhill shift is counter to what would be expected ...

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