On April 19-21, 2011 fire, weather and climate specialists convened virtually via teleconference and web meeting for the ninth annual National Seasonal Assessment Workshop. The main objective of the workshop was to improve information available to fire management decision makers, thus better protecting lives and property, reducing firefighting costs and improving firefighting efficiency. The participants produced a forecast of seasonal significant fire potential for the western states, Alaska and Hawaii.
Among the successful elements of the program and the workshop, the February 2011 assessment accurately forecasted the potential for active burning conditions in Texas this spring. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar mentions the 2011 outlook here. Workshop participants, in consultation with other specialists unable to attend the workshop, considered a variety of factors when making their assessments. Significant fire potential outlooks are primarily based on interactions between climate factors, fuel types and conditions, long-range predictions for climate and fire and the persistence of disturbance factors, such as drought and insect-induced forest mortality.
The 2011 workshop was part of the ninth national assessment organized by the National Predictive Services Group (NSPG), the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) at the University of Arizona, and the Program for Climate, Ecosystem and Fire Applications (CEFA) at the Desert Research Institute. In addition to the CLIMAS RISA, the California-Nevada Applications Program (CNAP), Western Water Assessment (WWA), Pacific Northwest Climate Decision Support Consortium (CDSC). Tim Brown (CNAP) and Gregg Garfin (CLIMAS) are co-authors on the final report.
Workshop funding was provided by the National Predictive Services Subcommittee (NPSS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The sixth North American Seasonal Assessment Workshop, which included participants from Mexico and Canada, was held in conjunction with this workshop.
Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather. In 2011, the United States experienced a record high number (14) of climate- and weather-related disasters where overall costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. Combined, these events claimed 670 lives, caused more than 6,000 injuries, and cost $55 billion in damages. Businesses, policy leaders, resource managers and citizens are increasingly asking for information to help them address such challenges.
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