Encyclopedia of Wildfires and Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) Fires

Living Edition
| Editors: Samuel L. Manzello

Fire History

  • Emily K. HeyerdahlEmail author
  • Cathy Whitlock
  • David B. McWethy
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-51727-8_113-1

Definition

Fire history is the study of the spatial and temporal patterns of past wildland fires.

Introduction

Information on recent wildland fires comes from documentary records and satellite observations that span years to decades. On longer time scales, fire history is reconstructed from tree rings, including fire scars and the origin dates of postfire cohorts of trees, and sedimentary deposits of charcoal in lakes and wetlands; these reconstructions span centuries to millennia. Historical fire records are useful for understanding interactions among fire, climate, and vegetation and the influence of fire on long-term ecosystem dynamics.

Fire History from Documentary Records

Documentary records are recent time series of fire activity that include the date and location of points at which fires have ignited (e.g., Short 2015) and/or the mapped perimeters of fires (e.g., Morgan et al. 2014). The temporal resolution of these records varies from days to years, and the spatial resolution...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Andela N, Morton DC, Giglio L, Paugam R, Chen Y, Hanson S, van der Werf GR, Randerson JT (2019) The global fire atlas of individual fire size, duration, speed, and direction. Earth Syst Sci Data 11:529–552.  https://doi.org/10.5194/essd-11-529-2019CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Benes JV, Iglesias V, Whitlock C (2019) Postglacial vegetation dynamics at high elevation from fairy Lake in the northern greater Yellowstone ecosystem, Montana, USA. Quat Res:1–16Google Scholar
  3. Brown PM, Wienk CL, Symstad AJ (2008) Fire and forest history at Mount Rushmore. Ecol Appl 18:1984–1999.  https://doi.org/10.1890/07-1337.1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Clark JS, Royall PD, Chumbley C (1996) The role of fire during climate change in an eastern deciduous forest at Devil’s Bathtub, New York. Ecology 77:2148–2166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Clements FE (1910) The life history of lodgepole burn forests. United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  6. Conedera M, Tinner W, Neff C, Meurer M, Dickens AF, Krebs P (2009) Reconstructing past fire regimes: methods, applications, and relevance to fire management and conservation. Quat Sci Rev 28:555–576.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2008.11.005CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Eidenshink J, Schwind B, Brewer K, Zhu ZL, Quayle B, Howard S (2007) A project for monitoring trends in burn severity. Fire Ecol 3(1):3–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Falk DA, Heyerdahl EK, Brown PM, Farris C, Fulé PZ, McKenzie D, Swetnam TW, Taylor AH, Van Horne ML (2011) Multi-scale controls of historical forest-fire regimes: new insights from fire-scar networks. Front Ecol Environ 9:446–454.  https://doi.org/10.1890/100052CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Farris CA, Baisan CH, Falk DA, Yool SR, Swetnam TW (2010) Spatial and temporal corroboration of a fire-scar-based fire history in a frequently burned ponderosa pine forest. Ecol Appl 20:1598–1614.  https://doi.org/10.1890/09-1535.1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fritts HC (1976) Tree rings and climate. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  11. Gutsell SL, Johnson EA (1996) How fire scars are formed: coupling a disturbance process to its ecological effect. Can J For Res 26:166–174.  https://doi.org/10.1139/x26-020CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Harley GL, Baisan CH, Brown PM, Falk DA, Flatley WT, Grissino-Mayer HD, Hessl A, Heyerdahl EK, Kaye MW, Lafon CW, Margolis EQ, Maxwell RS, Naito AT, Platt WJ, Rother MT, Saladyga T, Sherriff RL, Stachowiak LA, Stambaugh MC, Sutherland EK, Taylor AH (2018) Advancing dendrochronological studies of fire in the United States. Fire 1:11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Heyerdahl EK, Loehman RA, Falk DA (2019) A multi-century history of fire regimes along a transect of mixed-conifer forests in Central Oregon, USA. Can J For Res 49:76–86.  https://doi.org/10.1139/cjfr-2018-0193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Higuera PE, Brubaker LB, Anderson PM, Hu FS, Brown TA (2009) Vegetation mediated the impacts of postglacial climate change on fire regimes in the south-Central Brooks Range, Alaska. Ecol Monogr 79:201–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Higuera PE, Whitlock C, Gage JA (2011) Linking tree-ring and sediment-charcoal records to reconstruct fire occurrence and area burned in subalpine forests of Yellowstone National Park, USA. The Holocene 21:327–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kipfmueller KF, Swetnam TW (2001) Using dendrochronology to reconstruct the history of ecosystems. In: Egan D, Howell EA (eds) The historical ecology handbook: a restorationist’s guide to reference ecosystems. Island Press, Washington, DC, pp 199–228Google Scholar
  17. Kolden CA, Weisberg PJ (2007) Assessing accuracy of manually-mapped wildfire perimeters in topographically dissected areas. Fire Ecol 3:22–31.  https://doi.org/10.4996/fireecology.0702051CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kolden CA, Lutz JA, Key CH, Kane JT, van Wagtendonk JW (2012) Mapped versus actual burned area within wildfire perimeters: characterizing the unburned. For Ecol Manag 286:38–47.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2012.08.020CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Littell JS, McKenzie D, Peterson DL, Westerling AL (2009) Climate and wildfire area burned in western US ecoprovinces, 1916–2003. Ecol Appl 19:1003–1021.  https://doi.org/10.1890/07-1183.1CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lynch J, Clark J, Stocks B (2004) Charcoal production, dispersal, and deposition from the Fort Providence experimental fire: interpreting fire regimes from charcoal records in boreal forests. Can J For Res 34:1642–1656CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Margolis EQ, Swetnam TW, Allen CD (2007) A stand-replacing fire history in upper montane forests of the southern Rocky Mountains. Can J For Res 37:2227–2241.  https://doi.org/10.1139/X07-079CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Marlon JR, Kelly R, Daniau AL, Vannière B, Power MJ, Bartlein P, Higuera P, Blarquez O, Brewer S, Brücher T, Feurdean A, Romera GG, Iglesias V, Maezumi SY, Magi B, Courtney Mustaphi C, Zhihai T (2016) Reconstructions of biomass burning from sediment-charcoal records to improve data–model comparisons. Biogeosciences 13:3225–3244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Morgan P, Heyerdahl EK, Miller C, Wilson AM, Gibson CE (2014) Northern Rockies pyrogeography: an example of fire atlas utility. Fire Ecol 10:14–30.  https://doi.org/10.4996/fireecology.1001014CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Shapiro-Miller LB, Heyerdahl EK, Morgan P (2007) Comparison of fire scars, fire atlases, and satellite data in the northwestern United States. Can J For Res 37:1933–1943.  https://doi.org/10.1139/X07-054CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Short KC (2015) Sources and implications of bias and uncertainty in a century of US wildfire activity data. Int J Wildland Fire 24:883–891.  https://doi.org/10.1071/WF14190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Smith KT, Sutherland EK (2001) Terminology and biology of fire scars in selected central hardwoods. Tree-Ring Res 57:141–147Google Scholar
  27. Swetnam TW, Dieterich JH (1985) Fire history of ponderosa pine forests in the Gila Wilderness, New Mexico. In: Wilderness fire symposium, proceedings of the Symposium and workshop on wilderness fire, Missoula, 15–18 Nov 1983; USDA Forest Service INT-182; US Forest Service, Washington, DC, pp 390–397Google Scholar
  28. Whitlock C, Larsen CPS (2001) Charcoal as a fire proxy. In: Smol JP, Birks HJB, Last WM (eds) Tracking environmental change using Lake sediments: volume 3 terrestrial, algal, and siliceous indicators. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, pp 75–97Google Scholar
  29. Whitlock C, Bianchi MM, Bartlein PJ, Markgraf V, Walsh M, Marlon JM, McCoy N (2006) Postglacial vegetation, climate, and fire history along the east side of the Andes (lat 41-42.5 S), Argentina. Quat Res 66:187–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© This is a U.S. Government work and not under copyright protection in the U.S.; foreign copyright protection may apply 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emily K. Heyerdahl
    • 1
    Email author
  • Cathy Whitlock
    • 2
  • David B. McWethy
    • 2
  1. 1.USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research StationFire Sciences LaboratoryMissoulaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Earth Sciences and Montana Institute on EcosystemsMontana State UniversityBozemanUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kuibin Zhou
    • 1
  1. 1.Nanjing Tech UniversityNanjingChina