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Parks Service funds project on decadal climate, wildfire and water in the Klamath

posted Oct 31, 2011, 10:18 PM by Scott St. George   [ updated Oct 31, 2011, 10:20 PM ]
Mount Thiessen, Oregon (photograph by Kurt Kipfmueller)

This news is a little old but Kurt and I have received a grant from the National Park Service to study how persistent climate shifts affect wildfire and surface water in southern Oregon and northern California. Next summer (2012), our lab group will conduct field studies across several park units within the Klamath Network, including Crater Lake National Park, Lassen Volcanic National Park, Lava Beds National Monument and Whiskeytown National Recreation Area.

For reasons we don't really understand, the central Pacific Coast has a very unusual winter-time climate. This area is one of the very few parts of North America where rain and snowfall exhibited major decade-to-decade shifts between wet and dry winters during the past century. Because decadal variability is such a big component of the climate system here, we should be able to use this region as a test case to determine whether or not long-term climate variability has an impact on forest ecology and water resources. By focusing on three critical systems - forest fire activity, tree establishment and mortality and alpine hydrology - we hope that this research will be relevant to long-term planning and management in the Klamath Network parks.

Kurt's worked in this area before, most recently around Crater Lake in 2010, but this will be my first chance to visit this part of the U.S. I'm really looking forward to what should be a fun and productive trip.