Evers, C., Holz, A., Busby, S., Nielsen-Pincus, M., 2022. Extreme winds alter influence of fires and topography on megafire burn severity in seasonal temperate rainforests under record fuel aridity. Fire 5, 41.

Link: http://doi.org/10.3390/fire5020041

Summary: In 2020, nearly 800,000 hectares of land were burned in the Pacific Northwest over two weeks under record-breaking fuel aridity and winds. The authors quantified the relative influence of weather, vegetation and topography on patterns of high severity burn. This included a comparison between fire effects on unmanaged, older forest landscapes vs. intensively managed tree plantations.

Key excerpts:

  • “Our results confirm that wind was the major driver of the 2020 megafires, but also that both vegetation structure and topography significantly affect burn severity patterns even under extreme fuel aridity and winds.”
  • “Early-seral forests primarily concentrated on private lands, burned more severely than their older and taller counterparts, over the entire megafire event regardless of topography.”
  • “Meanwhile, mature stands burned severely only under extreme winds and especially on steeper slopes.”