A column of smoke rises from the Tamarack Fire in Nevada in 2021. (Photo by the U.S. Forest Service.)
This summer’s western wildfire season is likely to be more severe than average but not as devastating as last year’s near-record, according to an experimental prediction method developed by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).
The new method, detailed in a peer-reviewed study, analyzes precipitation, temperatures, drought, and other climate conditions in the winter and spring in order to predict the extent of wildfires across the western United States during the following summer. The research team developed the method by applying machine learning techniques to observations of every wildfire season since 1984, when current satellite measurements of fires first became available.
Although scientists had previously known that climate conditions during the spring and summer influence fire risk, the new study demonstrates that, even several months before peak fire season, the climate across large parts of the West plays an important role in setting the stage for the blazes.
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MISSION: The Climate and Fisheries Adaptation Program (CAFA) is a partnership between the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (NOAA Research) Climate Program Office, and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) Office of Science and Technology that supports targeted research to promote adaptation and resilience of the nation's valuable fisheries and fisheries-dependent communities in a changing climate. By bringing together NOAA scientists with many partners, CAFA addresses priority needs for information and tools identified in the NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy, Regional Action Plans, and other sources.
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Climate change is impacting fish stocks, fisheries, and fishing communities, and these impacts are expected to increase. Changing climate and ocean conditions (e.g. warming oceans, changing currents, coastal inundation, extreme events, etc.) can affect the abundance, distribution, and productivity of fish stocks that support economically important fisheries. Sustainable fisheries management requires an improved understanding of how climate, fishing, and other stressors interact to affect fish stocks (including their habitats and prey), fisheries and fishing-dependent communities.
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