• Ayres, A., Degolia, A., Fienup, M., Yunyeol, K., Sainz J, Urbisci, L., Viana, D., Wesolowski, G., Plantinga, A., Tague, C. (2016) Social Science/Natural Science Perspectives on Wildfire and Climate Change. Geography Compass, 10(2), 67-86. doi:10.1111/gec3.12259 Absract

In western North America, wildfire is a critical component of many ecosystems and a natural hazard that can result in catastrophic losses of human lives and property. Billions of dollars are spent suppressing wildfires each year. In the past decades, academic research has made substantial contributions to the understanding of fire and its interaction with climate and land management. Most reviews of the academic literature, however, are centered in either natural or social science. We offer an integrated cross‐disciplinary guide to state‐of‐the art fire science and use this review to identify research gaps. We focus on the modern era and understanding fire in the context of a changing climate in western North America. We find that studies combining social and natural science perspectives remain limited and that interactions among coupled system components are poorly understood. For example, while natural science studies have identified how fuel treatments alter fire regimes, few social science studies examine how decisions are made about fuel treatments and how these decisions respond to changes in fire regimes. A key challenge is to better quantify the effects of actual fire management policies in a way that accounts for the complexity of coupled natural and natural–human system interactions.

  • Kennedy, M., McKenzie D., Tague, C., Dugger, A. (2017) Balancing Uncertainty and Complexity to Incorporate Fire-Spread in a Hydro-ecological Model. Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire, 26(8), 706-718.

Wildfire affects the ecosystem services of watersheds, and climate change will modify fire regimes and watershed dynamics. In many eco-hydrological simulations, fire is included as an exogenous force. Rarely are the bidirectional feedbacks between watersheds and fire regimes integrated in a simulation system because the eco-hydrological model predicts variables that are incompatible with the requirements of fire models. WMFire is a fire-spread model of intermediate complexity designed to be integrated with the Regional Hydro-ecological Simulation System (RHESSys). Spread in WMFire is based on four variables that (i) represent known influences on fire spread: litter load, relative moisture deficit, wind direction and topographic slope, and (ii) are derived directly from RHESSys outputs. The probability that a fire spreads from pixel to pixel depends on these variables as predicted by RHESSys. We tested a partial integration between WMFire and RHESSys on the Santa Fe (New Mexico) and the HJ Andrews (Oregon State) watersheds. Model assessment showed correspondence between expected spatial patterns of spread and seasonality in both watersheds. These results demonstrate the efficacy of an approach to link eco-hydrologic model outputs with a fire spread model. Future work will develop a fire effects module in RHESSys for a fully coupled, bidirectional model.

This paper examines the consequences of salience for the government provision of public goods. Salience is a common behavioral bias whereby people’s attention is drawn to salient features of a decision problem, leading them to overweight prominent information in subsequent judgments. We analyze the case in which the public’s demand for the good is distorted by salient events, and explore how salience influences public good allocation and efficiency. Theoretical predictions regarding public good allocation depend on the magnitude of the change in payoffs and the extent of salience effects. We test whether salience increases allocation of government projects to reduce wildfire severity near wildland-adjacent communities. Even though the occurrence of a wildfire reduces the severity of future fires in the same area, it may increase the likelihood that fuels management projects are placed nearby if wildfire events strongly increase the salience of losses under future fires. We find evidence that the salience effects increase the likelihood of fuels management projects and use robustness checks to eliminate competing explanations for our results. Our salience framework may also offer insights into government responses to terrorism, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, and environmental catastrophes.

Low-probability, high-consequence climate change events are likely to trigger management responses that arbased on the demand for immediate action from those affected. However, these responses may be inefficient and even maladaptive in the long term.


In Prep

  1. Bart, R., Kennedy, M., Tague, C., McKenzie, D. (In-prep) Integrating a dynamic fire effects model with a distributed ecohydrologic model. Ecological Modelling.
  2. Bart, R., Tague, C., Kennedy, M., Hanan, E. (In-prep) A watershed-scale model for simulating natural wildfire regimes in the Western U.S. Journal of Advances in Modeling Earth Systems.