The Conversation 12-13-18

A five-year drought in California (2011–2016) led to western pine beetle outbreaks, which contributed to the mortality of 129 million trees. As a result, the structure and function of these forests are changing rapidly. Prolonged droughts are expected to become more common as the climate continues to warm, increasing stress on lower-elevation tree species. Photo credit: Marc Meyer, U.S. Forest Service.

On this edition of the Conversation the topic is climate change.  Join Brian Bahouth, Roger Moellendorf and Chas Macquarie of Citizens Climate Education for a wide-ranging conversation about a warming climate and what it means for the environment, the economy and the western United States.  This is a recording of a live program that aired on 95.1 FM in the Capital region of Nevada and streamed through knvc.org between noon and 1:00 p.m. on December 13, 2018 …

Graphics from the 4th annual National Climate Assessment to accompany the conversation:

This figure shows the annual wildfire area burned in the United States (red) and the annual federal wildfire suppression expenditures (black), scaled to constant 2016 U.S. dollars (Consumer Price Index deflated). Trends for both area burned and wildfire suppression costs indicate about a fourfold increase over a 30-year period. Source: U.S. Forest Service.
The cumulative forest area burned by wildfires has greatly increased between 1984 and 2015, with analyses estimating that the area burned by wildfire across the western United States over that period was twice what would have burned had climate change not occurred. Source: adapted from Abatzoglou and Williams 2016.

A five-year drought in California (2011–2016) led to western pine beetle outbreaks, which contributed to the mortality of 129 million trees. As a result, the structure and function of these forests are changing rapidly. Prolonged droughts are expected to become more common as the climate continues to warm, increasing stress on lower-elevation tree species. Photo credit: Marc Meyer, U.S. Forest Service.
Temperatures increased across almost all of the Southwest region from 1901 to 2016, with the greatest increases in southern California and western Colorado. This map shows the difference between 1986–2016 average temperature and 1901–1960 average temperature. Source: adapted from Vose et al. 2017.