Colorado’s Record-setting 2020 Fire Season
Colorado’s Record-setting 2020 Fire Season – in the Context of the Past 6000 Years
Colorado’s record-setting 2020 fire season exemplified a decades-long trend of increasing fire activity across the West, well-correlated with climate change and increasingly paired with devastating human impacts. In this presentation, I will help make sense of such extreme events by drawing on the long-term perspective gained from paleoecological records of climate, fire, and forest history in Colorado subalpine forests spanning the past 6000 years. Paired with contemporary observations and fire ecology, we will learn what aspects of ongoing change in subalpine forests are “business as usual,” what aspects are unprecedented, and what we can anticipate as forests continue to adjust to a rapidly warming world.
About Philip Higuera
Phil Higuera is an associate professor at the University of Montana, where he directs the PaleoEcology and Fire Ecology Lab and teaches courses in fire and disturbance ecology. Research in his lab spans western North America and has revealed how fire activity varies with climate change in recent decades and the distant past, and how forest ecosystems have responded to these changes. Phil spent the summer of 1999 as an ACES naturalist, before heading to graduate school at the University of Washington. Since 2006, varying components of his research have focused on fire history and ecological change in Colorado forests, in Rocky Mountain National Park and beyond.