Journal’s “Focus on Changing Fire Regimes” features Woodwell Climate editor, research

Brendan Rogers headshot

Woodwell scientist Brendan Rogers

Woodwell Climate Research Center (formerly Woods Hole Research Center) scientist Dr. Brendan Rogers recently served as guest editor for a special issue of the journal Environmental Research Letters. Focus on Changing Fire Regimes: Interactions with Climate, Ecosystems, and Humans showcases 27 studies, several co-authored by Woodwell researchers, on how fires are changing in a warming world and what that means for ecosystems and human societies.

The studies look at a wide range of fire-related topics, from how plants and fire evolved together, helping regulate atmospheric oxygen, to how prescribed wildland fires may harm local public health. A paper co-authored by Woodwell scientists Dr. Paulo Brando, Dr. Michael Coe, and Dr. Marcia Macedo looks at how Amazon droughts worsened by climate change are increasing forest flammability by reducing understory humidity and fuel moisture. Droughts also increase forest flammability indirectly by decreasing soil moisture, triggering leaf shedding, branch loss, and tree mortality—all of which add fuel to fires.

The issue is the result of countless hours of work by Dr. Rogers and his fellow guest editors, coordinating submissions and writing a synthesis article that sums up the work.

“It has never been more important to understand these dynamics as fire regimes are changing, and in many instances intensifying, due to climate change, land use, and other global change drivers,” Dr. Rogers and his fellow guest editors conclude. “We recommend an increased emphasis on understanding these interactions, including the ways in which humans influence fire regimes, the full economic costs of wildfires, and an increased emphasis on attribution, especially for large and damaging wildfire seasons.”

The study also endorses strategy that’s a key tenet of Woodwell Climate’s work—bringing scientists together with policymakers to make sure fire management is informed by the best available science.