Wildfire, water, and society: Toward integrative research in the “Anthropocene”

Alicia M. Kinoshita, Anne Chin, Gregory L. Simon, Christy Briles, Terri S. Hogue, Alison P. O'Dowd, Andrea K. Gerlak, Alejandra Uribe Albornoz

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Across the globe wildfires are increasing in frequency and magnitude under a warming climate, impacting natural resources, infrastructure, and millions of people worldwide every year. At the same time, human encroachment into fire-prone areas has increased the potential for ignition, as well as risks and damages to human communities. In an era of intensifying human activities on Earth – the “Anthropocene” – societal interactions with post-fire landscapes are becoming normal. Independent theories derived from individual disciplines no longer apply in cases where human interactions are intense. A holistic approach that accounts for interactions between natural and human systems is necessary to understand the altered dynamics of post-fire landscapes. Focusing on the intersection of fire, water, and society, this review explores an integrative research framework to couple post-fire fluvial and human processes. We overview the trends in wildfires and growing impacts on humans, how fluvial processes and systems are altered by wildfires, and the potential hazards for human settlements. This review is a basis for integrating societal concerns, such as vulnerability, economic impacts, and management responses. We then link disciplinary questions into broad interdisciplinary research through an integrative framework. The 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire (Colorado, USA) provides an illustrative case with intense human interactions, both during and after the fire, to formulate critical questions within the integrative framework. Utilizing emergent integrative conceptual frameworks and tools will assist scholars in meeting the challenges and opportunities for broad collaboration, which are necessary to understand and confront wildfires characteristic of the “Anthropocene”.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16-27
Number of pages12
JournalAnthropocene
Volume16
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Fluvial
  • Integrative framework
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Post-fire
  • Society
  • Water
  • Wildfire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Ecology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)

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