Year Published: 2017
Description: Interannual variability in burn severity is assessed across forested ecoregions of the western United States to understand how it is influenced by variations in area burned and climate during 1984–2014. Strong correlations (|r| > 0.6) between annual area burned and climate metrics were found across many of the studied regions. The burn severity of individual fires and fire seasons was weakly, but significantly (P < 0.05), correlated with burned area across many regions. Interannual variability in fuel dryness evaluated with fuel aridity metrics demonstrated weak-to-moderate (|r| >0.4) relationships with regional burn severity, congruent with but weaker than those between climate and area burned for most ecoregions. These results collectively suggest that irrespective of other factors, long-term increases in fuel aridity will lead to increased burn severity in western United States forests for existing vegetation regimes.