Self-reinforcing Patterns of Forest Fire Severity in the Southern Cascades, USA.

Fire severity in California has increased in recent decades. Increased fire severity has resulted in more severe fire effects in these ecosystems. In 2008, the Cub Fire burned a site where fire severity patterns in the 19th century were quantified. Since no logging had occurred on the site, differences in fire severity between the late 19th century and 2008 are related to fire history, vegetation structure, topography, changes in vegetation and fuels since fire suppression, and weather conditions during the fire. This paper compares landscape fire severity patterns in 2008 derived from remote sensing to 19th century patterns from the fire history study. Fire severity in 2008 was greatest on upper and mid-slope positions and where the vegetation in the late 19th century was montane chaparral. Fire severity was lowest on lower slope positions. This is the same vegetation type/slope position-fire severity pattern present in the 19th century landscape and suggests that, at least in complex terrain, historic vegetation and topography strongly influence recurring patterns of fire severity. The recurring fire severity pattern in Cub Creek promotes persistence of old multi-layered forests in valley bottoms and lower slopes and young denser forest on upper slopes.

First Name: 
Alan
Last Name: 
Taylor
Organization: 
Penn State University
Authors: 
Author First Name: 
Alan
Author MI: 
H
Author Last Name: 
Taylor
Author Organization: 
Department of Geography Penn State
Author First Name: 
Carl
Author MI: 
N
Author Last Name: 
Skinner
Author Organization: 
USDA Forest Service
Author First Name: 
Catherine
Author MI: 
T
Author Last Name: 
Airey
Author Organization: 
Department of Geography Penn State
Author First Name: 
Becky
Author MI: 
L
Author Last Name: 
Estes
Author Organization: 
USDA Forest Service
Presentation type: 
Oral presentation