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Climate Variability and Altered Fire Regimes in the Mountain Forests of British Columbia, Canada
Presented by Lori DANIELS on 16 May 2013 from 10:40 to 11:00
Type: Oral Presentation
Session: Fire Ecology II
Track: Fire ecology
We have compared fire history and forest dynamics in the East versus West Kootenay areas of southeastern British Columbia. In both areas, fire regimes varied significantly with steep elevational gradients. At high elevations, stand-replacing fires burned every 150-300 years according to our fire scar, forest age structure and lake sediment records. In the lower-elevation forests, low-severity fires burned and scarred trees once every 25 to 50 years, on average. Fires burned in late summer of drought years, often during the warm phase of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, associated with warm, dry conditions in the Kootenay region. Despite the historic frequency of fires and recent periods of suitable climate, these forests last burned 56 to 159 years ago, providing evidence of altered fire regimes. The lack of recent fires was reflected in the composition and density of low-elevation forests in both study areas, posing a risk of higher fire severity, especially given anticipated regional warming.