The making of national seasonal wildfire outlooks

Gregg Garfin, Timothy J. Brown, Tom Wordell, Ed Delgado

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

5 Scopus citations


Bridging the gap between research-based experiments and fully operational products has been likened to crossing the valley of death. In this chapter, we document the development of climate-informed preseason fire potential outlooks, through a long-term collaboration between RISA teams, the National Interagency Fire Center's (NIFC's) Predictive Services (PS) program and multiple collaborators. We describe the process of transitioning experimental outlooks into a sustained, monthly operational product. In crossing the valley of death, we codeveloped a temporary institution, the National Seasonal Assessment Workshops (NSAWs), which is a platform for cross-disciplinary knowledge exchange, training, and experimentation in consensus forecast processes and product development. In a retrospective evaluation of the process, we identified five factors that supported the transition from research to operations: (1) the development of new institutions, (2) a focus on geographic scales that met established entities (i.e., federal and state land management agencies) needs with regard to outlooks, (3) a participatory and deliberative process of engagement, (4) bringing in partners with multiple perspectives on the connections between climate and wildland fire management, and (5) iterative and sustained engagement, supported by funding and human resource commitments from the key partners. Through coproduction of the outlooks and the institution, we created a cross-disciplinary community of practice, and we increased the capacity of fire management practitioners to use climate information in decision-making. We recommend research to further examine the distribution and use of the outlooks, and further dialogue and research to develop forecast evaluation metrics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationClimate in Context
Subtitle of host publicationScience and Society Partnering for Adaptation
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9781118474785
ISBN (Print)9781118474792
StatePublished - Apr 29 2016


  • Climate services
  • Fire potential
  • Seasonal forecasting
  • Wildland fire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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