Date of this Version
Fire Science Brief, Issue 137, July 2011
Climate change, and its ecological impact, is right on the horizon. According to climate predictions over the next century, the southwestern United States will face higher temperatures and greater evaporative loss, which will heighten the possibility for severe drought. The stress of more frequent, intense droughts can increase tree mortality, hinder growth, and alter forest structure and composition. As a result, it’s now more important than ever for land managers to understand how today’s decisions and actions can impact future forest conditions. To develop answers, researchers conducted a study in the oldest ponderosa pine restoration project in the Southwest. Located in northwestern Arizona, the Mt. Trumbull ecological restoration site offered a perfect opportunity for researchers to use a realistic landscape example to compare treatment methods and schedules for long-term maintenance of forest restoration treatments. The specific study objective was to use a forest simulation model—both in its standard form and with modifi cations to account for climate change effects—to forecast changes in tree structure, biomass, carbon, and potential forest products under alternative treatment scenarios.