Wildfire in the Earth System: Perspectives on Interdisciplinary Research from Alaska and Nevada
Presented by James White
Undergraduate in Atmospheric and Earth Sciences
Wildfire is a critical component of many ecosystems. Fires are connected to several stakeholders, from ecosystem dynamics to local weather patterns, and human infrastructure to geology; this lends itself to an interdisciplinary systems-based research approach. To exemplify this approach, two different research projects will be discussed. The first project involves using charcoal preserved in meadow soil profiles to reconstruct the history of wildfire activity in Great Basin National Park over the past several thousand years. The second project focuses on identifying meteorological variables important to fire spread in Alaska’s western tundra landscapes. Wildfire research often has implications for resource management and other social systems. The project conducted in Alaska will be discussed as an example of integration between researcher and wildfire managers where research directly addressed a stated management need. Overall, these two undergraduate student projects illustrate how wildfire research draws on many bodies of knowledge and is often performed most effectively when in close contact with stakeholders.