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Alaska Fire Science Consortium
May 2013 Newsletter  |  Issue 14

Is it Safe to Say 'Spring' Yet?

Winter has lingered this year, breaking some records for the coldest springs. That doesn't always translate to a slow fire season—some years with cold, snowy springs turned into large fire years. Remember the fires of 2004? There was enough snow and rain in May 2004 to make it the wettest in 100 years. However, as the Arctic flow pattern hung on, 2013 seemed less likely to be a mega-fire season. Fairbanks weather forecaster Rick Thoman noted that May 8 was the second-latest "over-50°F day” on record—tied with 1948(1). The latest date Fairbanks broke 50°F was May 23 in 1964. It turns out in 1964 a whopping 3,430 acres burned state-wide, while in 1948 our scanty records accounted for about 35,000 acres, compared to an average around 1 million.
Maybe you'll have time to catch up on some new fire science research and publications while we wait for summer! AFSC has many scientific presentations and workshop materials in our presentation archive on the Web, including these brand new ones:
  • Scientists from universities in Alaska, Florida, and Saskatchewan met with fire managers and resource specialists on April 29, 2013, to share results on findings from a study called Identifying Indicators of State Change and Forecasting Future Vulnerability in Alaskan Boreal Ecosystems. Recordings of brief science overviews on research components, including fire effects on organic layer depth, carbon storage, permafrost, susceptibility to invasive plants, and modeling effects of fire and fuel treatments, as well as a short summary of the meeting, are available here.
  • Presentations and guides from the May 16, 2013, Fuel Moisture Sampling workshop.
In addition to new information, the AFSC website has lots of archived materials that are worth reviewing, such as: and much more!

JFSP Regional Consortia meet in Boise
The personnel behind the Joint Fire Science Program (JFSP) regional consortia met in Boise, Idaho, in early May. These 14 knowledge-exchange organizations exist to serve the information needs of fire practitioners at the regional level (see map to right). The consortia complement JFSP funding for fire science research projects by synthesizing research findings and targeting their use by managers.

The Boise All-Consortia meeting involved 3 days of presentations and discussions with members of the JFSP staff and governing board, covering topics from advocacy to Twitter. It was a great opportunity for Alaska Fire Science Consortium personnel (Randi Jandt, Sarah Trainor, Alison York) to learn about how others are identifying research needs and delivering the best available fire science in each area.
 
In the current difficult budget environment, program leadership shared relatively good news about the JFSP’s effectiveness and the demonstrated value of the consortia. John Cissel, JFSP’s program manager, covered the results of a recent independent review of the overall program, which concluded that JFSP is “efficient and highly leveraged.” Nate Benson, chair of the JFSP governing board, made it clear that the board considers the consortia a “cornerstone” of JFSP programs.
 
See the JFSP website or contact Alison York for more information.

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Research Brief
Global wildland fire season severity in the 21st century: This research brief summarizes a recently published article by Canadian fire scientist Mike Flannigan of the University of Alberta. Dr. Flannigan is well-known in Alaska fire management circles due to his contributions to boreal forest wildfire studies and the Canadian large fire database. This 2013 article describes the use of component indices of the Canadian Fuels Danger Rating System to forecast future changes in fire season severity world-wide.
Publication
The Efficacy of Hazardous Fuel Treatments. Rapid Assessment of the Economic and Ecologic Consequences of Alternative Hazardous Fuel Treatments, A Special Report from the Ecological Restoration Institute at Northern Arizona University to the U.S. Department of Interior, Office of Wildland Fire.
Map of the 14 Joint Fire Science Program Regional Consortia.
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