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Tracking Climate and Wildfire in the Klamath Region

September 3, 2014
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Klamath fire

Thanks to a new grant from the National Science Foundation, over the next 4 years, HF senior ecologist Jonathan Thompson will study future changes to the increasingly wildfire-prone Klamath region of Oregon and California. In partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, Thompson's research team will evaluate the potential for the 25-million-acre Klamath region to shift, through climate change and increased wildfire, from a high-biomass conifer forest to a low-carbon, shrub-dominated landscape.

A shift from forest to shrub would reduce the many benefits that forests provide to the region, impair unparalleled botanical diversity, and release massive amounts of greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere. The researchers will collaborate with the Forest Service to identify robust strategies for managing these dynamic ecosystems in a shifting climate.

The research team includes scientists from the Smithsonian Institution, Portland State University, and the University of Virginia. Their new understanding of such a critical transition in the Klamath region will inform the management of fire-prone forests worldwide. 

Photo by Tom Link of the U.S. Forest Service.

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