Reburns and resilience

When the Chips Fire burned across the Plumas and Lassen National Forests in 2012, it burned over a landscape which had previously burned in the 2000 Storrie Fire. Researchers at the US Forest Service saw an opportunity, and followed up on a 2009 aerial LiDAR (light detection and ranging) survey with additional LiDAR scans in 2013 and 2015.

Researchers at UC Berkeley, Florida Atlantic University, and the USFS teamed up to study the conditions under which forests resist, recover, or are transformed by fire. Using the LiDAR data, I generated data products describing 3D forest structure across the burned and re-burned landscape. This work has been published in the Journal of Ecology:

Steel, Zachary L., et al. “Ecological resilience and vegetation transition in the face of two successive large wildfires.” Journal of Ecology 109.9 (2021): 3340-3355.

The study area for this project has recently burned a third time, in the 2021 Dixie Fire. Hopefully this will create an opportunity to study the different trajectories possible for forests and shrublands as fire returns to Californian landscapes.