Vol. 37 (2014)
Research Project Ecology

Evaluating the Effects of Projected Climate Change on Forest Fuel Moisture Content

Kellen N. Nelson
University of Wyoming
Daniel B. Tinker
University of Wyoming

Published 2014-01-01


Understanding how live and dead forest fuel moisture content (FMC) varies with seasonal weather and stand structure will improve researchersâ and forest managersâ ability to predict the cumulative effects of weather on fuel drying during the fire season and help identify acute conditions that foster wildfire ignition and high rates of fire spread. No studies have investigated the efficacy of predicting FMC using mechanistic water budget models at daily time scales through the fire season nor have they investigated how FMC may vary across space. This study addresses these gaps by (1) validating a novel mechanistic live FMC model and (2) applying this model with an existing dead FMC model at three forest sites using five climate change scenarios to characterize how FMC changes through time and across space. Sites include post-fire 24-year old forest, mature forest with high canopy cover, and mature forest affected by the mountain pine beetle with moderate canopy cover. Climate scenarios include central tendency, warm/dry, warm/wet, hot/dry, and hot/wet.