International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Climatic influences on fire regimes in montane forests of the southern Cascades, California, USA

A. H. Taylor A D , V. Trouet A B and C. N. Skinner C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Geography, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA.

B Present address: Swiss Federal Institute, WSL, Zürcherstrasse 111, Birmensdorf CH8903, Switzerland.

C USDA Service Center, Pacific Southwest Research Station, 3644 Avtech Parkway, Redding, CA 96002,USA.

D Corresponding author. Email: aht1@psu.edu

International Journal of Wildland Fire 17(1) 60-71 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF07033
Submitted: 19 February 2007  Accepted: 5 June 2007   Published: 15 February 2008

Abstract

The relationship between climate variability and fire extent was examined in montane and upper montane forests in the southern Cascades. Fire occurrence and extent were reconstructed for seven sites and related to measures of reconstructed climate for the period 1700 to 1900. The climate variables included the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), summer temperature (TEMP), NINO3, a measure of the El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), and the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO). Fire extent at the site and regional scale was associated with dry and warm conditions in the year of the fire and regional fire extent was not associated with ENSO or PDO for the full period of analysis. The relationship between regional fire extent and climate was not stable over time. The associations of fire extent with PDSI and TEMP were only significant from ~1775 onward and the associations were strongest between 1805 and 1855. PDO and fire extent were also associated during the 1805–1855 period, and ENSO was associated with fire extent before 1800, but not after. The interannual and interdecadal variability of the fire response to temperature and drought suggests that increased periods of regional fire activity may occur when high interannual PDSI variation coincides with warm decades.

Additional keywords: American Pacific coast, climatic variation, El Niño–Southern Oscillation, fire ecology, Pacific Decadal Oscillation.


Acknowledgements

The present research was supported by the Lassen National Forest, cooperative agreements (02-CA-11272162–052, 04-JV-11272162–407) between the USDA Forest Service and the Pennsylvania State University, the interagency Joint Fire Sciences Program, and a George S. Deike Research Grant.


References


Anderson RY, Lindesay J, Parker D (1992) Long-term changes in the frequency of occurrence of El Niño events. In ‘El Niño: Historical and Paleoclimatic Aspects of the Southern Oscillation’. (Eds HF Diaz, V Markgraf) pp. 193–200. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge)

Arno SF, Sneck KM (1977) A method for determining fire history in coniferous forest of the mountain west. USDA Forest Service, General Technical Report INT-GTR-42. (Ogden, UT)

Baisan CH , Swetnam TW (1990) Fire history on a desert mountain range: Rincon Mountain Wilderness, Arizona, USA. Canadian Journal of Forest Research  20, 1559–1569.
CrossRef |

Barbour MG (1988) California upland forests and woodlands. In ‘North American Terrestrial Vegetation’. (Eds MG Barbour, WD Billings) pp. 131–164. (Cambridge University Press: New York)

Beaty RM , Taylor AH (2001) Spatial and temporal variation of fire regimes in a mixed conifer forest landscape, Southern Cascades, California, USA. Journal of Biogeography  28, 955–966.
CrossRef |

Bekker MF , Taylor AH (2001) Gradient analysis of fire regimes in montane forests of the southern Cascade range, Thousand Lakes Wilderness, California, USA. Plant Ecology  155, 15–28.
CrossRef |

Briffa KR, Jones PD , Schweingruber FH (1992) Tree-ring density reconstructions of summer temperature patterns across western North America since 1600. Journal of Climate  5, 735–754.
CrossRef |

Cleaveland MK, Cook ER, Stahle DW (1992) Secular variability of the Southern Oscillation detected in tree ring data from Mexico and the southern United States. In ‘El Niño: historical and paleoclimatic aspects of the Southern Oscillation’. (Eds HF Diaz, V Markgraf) pp. 271–291. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge)

Cook ER (2000) ‘Niño 3 Index Reconstruction.’ International Tree-Ring Data Bank. IGBP PAGES/World Data Center-A for Paleoclimatology. Data Contribution Series 2000–052. (NOAA/NGDC Paleoclimatology Program: Boulder, CO)

Cook ER, Krusic PJ (2004) ‘The North American drought atlas.’ (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the National Science Foundation: New York)

Cook SF (1943) The conflict between the California Indian and white civilization. In ‘Green versus gold: sources in California’s environmental history’. (Ed. C Merchant) pp. 55–59. (Island Press: Washington, DC)

D’Arrigo RD, Villalba R , Wiles G (2001) Tree-ring estimates of Pacific decadal climate variability. Climate Dynamics  18, 219–224.
CrossRef |

Dettinger MD , Cayan DR (1995) Large-scale atmospheric forcing of recent trends toward early snowmelt runoff in California. Journal of Climate  8, 606–623.
CrossRef |

Dettinger MD, Cayan DR, Diaz HF , Meko MD (1998) North–south precipitation patterns in western North America on interannual-to-decadal time scales. Journal of Climate  11, 3095–3111.
CrossRef |

Dettinger MD, Cayan DR, McCabe GJ, Marengo JA (2000) Multiscale hydrologic variability associated with El Niño/Southern Oscillation. In ‘El Niño and the Southern Oscillation: multiscale variability and global and regional impacts’. (Eds HF Diaz, V Markgraf) pp. 113–146. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge)

Diaz HF, Markgraf V (Eds) (2000) ‘El Niño and the Southern Oscillation: multiscale variability and global and regional impacts.’ (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge)

Donnegan JA, Veblen TT , Sibold JS (2001) Climatic and human influences on fire history in Pike National Forest, central Colorado. Canadian Journal of Forest Research  31, 1526–1539.
CrossRef |

Earle CJ (1993) Asynchronous droughts in California streamflow as reconstructed from tree rings. Quaternary Research  39, 290–299.
CrossRef |

Gedalof Z, Mantua NJ , Peterson DL (2002) A multi-century perspective of variability in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation: new insights from tree rings and coral. Geophysical Research Letters  29, 2204–2207.
CrossRef |

Gershunov A , Barnett T (1998) Interdecadal modulation of ENSO teleconnections. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society  79, 2715–2725.
CrossRef |

Gershunov A, Barnett TP , Cayan DR (1999) North Pacific Interdecadal Oscillation seen as a factor in ENSO-related North American climate anomalies. EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union  80, 25–36.
CrossRef |

Graumlich LJ (1987) Precipitation variation in the Pacific North-west (1675–1975) as reconstructed from tree rings. Annals of the Association of American Geographers. Association of American Geographers  77, 19–29.
CrossRef |

Grissino-Mayer HD , Swetnam TW (2000) Century-scale climate forcing of fire regimes in the American South-west. The Holocene  10, 213–220.
CrossRef |

Haurwitz MW , Brier GW (1981) A critique of the superposed epoch analysis method: its application to solar–weather relations. Monthly Weather Review  109, 2074–2079.
CrossRef |

Hayhoe K, Cayan D, Field CB, Frumhoff PC , Maurer EP (2004) Emissions pathways, climate change, and impacts on California. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America  101, 12422–12427.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Hessl AE, McKenzie D , Schellhaas R (2004) Drought and Pacific Decadal Oscillation linked to fire occurrence in the inland Pacific North-west. Ecological Applications  14, 425–442.
CrossRef |

Heyerdahl EK, Brubaker LB , Agee JK (2001) Spatial controls of historical fire regimes: a multi-scale example for the Interior West, USA. Ecology  82, 660–678.


Heyerdahl EK, Brubaker LB , Agee JK (2002) Annual and decadal climate forcing of historical fire regimes in the interior Pacific Northwest. The Holocene  12, 597–604.

CrossRef |

Kitzberger T, Swetnam TW , Veblen TT (2001) Inter-hemispheric synchrony of forest fires and the El Niño–Southern Oscillation. Global Ecology and Biogeography  10, 315–326.
CrossRef |

Lenihan JL, Drapek R, Bachelet D , Neilson RP (2003) Climate change effects on vegetation distribution, carbon, and fire in California. Ecological Applications  13, 1667–1681.
CrossRef |

Mann ME, Bradley RS , Hughes MK (1998) Global-scale temperature patterns and climate forcing over the past six centuries. Nature  392, 779–787.
CrossRef |

Mann ME, Bradley RS, Hughes MK (2000) Long-term variability in the El Niño–Southern Oscillation and associated teleconnections. In ‘El Niño and the Southern Oscillation: multiscale variability and global and regional Impacts’. (Eds HF Diaz, V Markgraf) pp. 357–412. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge)

Mantua NJ, Hare SR, Zhang Y, Wallace JM , Francis RC (1997) A Pacific interdecadal climate oscillation with impacts on salmon production. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society  78, 1069–1079.
CrossRef |

McCabe GJ , Dettinger MD (1999) Decadal variations in the strength of ENSO teleconnections with precipitation in the western United States. International Journal of Climatology  19, 1399–1410.
CrossRef |

Miller RF , Heyerdahl EK (in press) Fine-scale variation of historical fire regimes in sagebrush-steppe and juniper woodland: An example from California, USA. International Journal of Wildland Fire  17,


Moody TJ, Fites-Kaufman J , Stephens SL (2006) Fire history and climate influences from forests in the northern Sierra Nevada, USA. Fire Ecology  2, 115–141.


Mooney CZ, Duval RD (1993) ‘Bootstrapping: a Non-Parametric Approach to Statistical Inference.’ (Sage Publications: Newbury Park, CA)

Nagel TA , Taylor AH (2005) Fire and persistence of montane chaparral in mixed conifer forest landscapes in the northern Sierra Nevada, Lake Tahoe Basin, California, USA. The Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society  132, 442–457.
CrossRef |

Nigam S, Barlow M , Berbery EH (1999) Analysis links Pacific decadal variability to drought and streamflow in the United States. EOS Transactions, American Geophysical Union  80, 621–625.
CrossRef |

Norman SP , Taylor AH (2003) Tropical and north Pacific teleconnections influence fire regimes in pine-dominated forests of north-eastern California. Journal of Biogeography  30, 1081–1092.


Norman SP , Taylor AH (2005) Pine forest expansion along a forest-meadow ecotone in northeastern California, USA. Forest Ecology and Management  215, 51–68.

CrossRef |

Palmer WC (1965) Meteorological drought. US Department of Commerce, Weather Bureau Research Paper No. 45. (Washington, DC)

Parker AJ (1991) Forest/environment relationships in Lassen Volcanic National Park, California, USA. Journal of Biogeography  18, 534–552.


Ritchie MW (2005) Ecological research at the Goosenest Adaptive Management Area in north-eastern California. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Southwest Research Station General Technical Report PSW-GTR-192. (Albany, CA)

Sakulich J , Taylor AH (2007) Fire regimes and forest structure in a sky island mixed conifer forest, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Texas, USA. Forest Ecology and Management  241, 62–73.
CrossRef |

Schoennagel T, Veblen TT, Romme WH, Sibold JS , Cook ER (2005) ENSO and PDO variability affect drought-induced fire occurrence in Rocky Mountain subalpine forests. Ecological Applications  15, 2000–2014.
CrossRef |

Schonher T , Nicholson SE (1989) The relationship between California rainfall and ENSO events. Journal of Climate  2(11), 1258–1269.
CrossRef |

Schulz P (1954) ‘Indians of Lassen Volcanic National Park.’ (Loomis Museum Associates: Red Bluff, CA)

Sibold JS , Veblen TT (2006) Relationships of subalpine forest fires in the Colorado Front Range with interannual and multidecadal-scale climatic variation. Journal of Biogeography  33, 833–842.
CrossRef |

Skinner CN, Chang C (1996) Fire regimes, past and present. In ‘Sierra Nevada Ecosystem Project: Final Report to Congress, Vol. II: Assessments and Scientific Basis for Management Options’. pp. 1041–1069. Water Resources Center Report No. 37. (Centers for Water and Wildland Resources, University of California: Davis, CA)

Skinner CN, Taylor AH (2006) Southern Cascade bioregion. In ‘Fire in California’s ecosystems’. (Eds NS Sugihara, JW van Wagtendonk, KE Shaffer, J Fites-Kaufman, AE Thode) pp. 195–224. (University of California Press: Berkeley, CA)

Stephens SL, Skinner CN , Gill SJ (2003) A dendrochronology-based fire history of Jeffrey pine–mixed conifer forests in the Sierra San Pedro Martir, Mexico. Canadian Journal of Forest Research  33, 1090–1101.
CrossRef |

Stokes MA, Smiley TL (1968) ‘An introduction to tree-ring dating.’ (University of Chicago Press: Chicago, IL)

Strong DH (1973) ‘These happy hunting grounds, a history of the Lassen Region.’ (Walker Lithograph Inc.: Red Bluff, CA)

Swetnam TW (1993) Fire history and climate change in giant sequoia groves. Science  262, 885–889.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Swetnam TW, Baisan CH (2003) Tree-ring reconstructions of fire and climate history in the Sierra Nevada and south-western United States. In ‘Fire and climatic change in temperate ecosystems of the Western Americas’. (Eds TT Veblen, WL Baker, B Montenegro, TW Swetnam) pp. 158–195. (Springer Verlag: New York)

Swetnam TW , Betancourt JL (1990) Fire–Southern Oscillation relations in the south-western United States. Science  249, 1017–1020.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Swetnam TW , Betancourt JL (1998) Mesoscale disturbance and ecological response to decadal climatic variability in the American South-west. Journal of Climate  11, 3128–3147.
CrossRef |

Taylor AH (1990) Habitat segregation and regeneration patterns of red fir and mountain hemlock in ecotonal forests, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California. Physical Geography  11, 36–48.


Taylor AH (1995) Forest expansion and climate change in the mountain hemlock (Tsuga mertensiana) zone, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California, USA. Arctic and Alpine Research  27, 207–216.
CrossRef |

Taylor AH (2000) Fire regimes and forest changes in mid- and upper montane forests of the southern Cascades, Lassen Volcanic National Park, California, USA. Journal of Biogeography  27, 87–104.
CrossRef |

Taylor AH , Beaty RM (2005) Climatic influences on fire regimes in the northern Sierra Nevada mountains, Lake Tahoe Basin, Nevada, USA. Journal of Biogeography  32, 425–438.
CrossRef |

Taylor AH , Skinner CN (2003) Spatial patterns and controls on historical fire regimes and forest structure in the Klamath Mountains. Ecological Applications  13, 704–719.
CrossRef |

Taylor AH , Solem MN (2001) Fire regimes and stand dynamics in an upper montane forest landscape in the southern Cascades, Caribou Wilderness, California. Journal of the Torrey Botanical Society  128, 350–361.
CrossRef |

Trouet V, Taylor AH, Carleton AM , Skinner CN (2006) Fire–climate interactions in forests of the American Pacific coast. Geophysical Research Letters  33, L18704.
CrossRef |

Veblen TT, Kitzberger T , Donnegan J (2000) Climate and human influences on fire regimes in ponderosa pine forests in the Colorado Front Range. Ecological Applications  10, 1178–1195.
CrossRef |

Westerling A , Swetnam T (2003) Interannual to decadal drought and wildfire in the western United States. EOS, Transactions, American Geophysical Union  84, 545–560.
CrossRef |

Westerling AL, Hidalgo HG, Cayan DR , Swetnam TW (2006) Warming and earlier spring increases western US forest wildfire activity. Science  313, 940–943.
CrossRef | PubMed |

Wilken G (1967) History and fire record of a timberland brushfield in the Sierra Nevada of California. Ecology  48, 302–324.
CrossRef |



Export Citation Cited By (30)