Pepperwood’s annual Terrestrial Biodiversity and Climate Change Collaborative (TBC3) convened this September, and was a successful gathering of some of the most dizzyingly bright climate scientists, biologists, and leaders of the geographic information systems community. They discussed the latest research and developments around wildlife and connectivity, forest stewardship and wildfire, climate and ecosystem monitoring, and statewide approaches to building resilience.
As long as wildfire continues to shape Sonoma County’s landscape and biodiversity with increasing intensity, scientists will be “all in” on identifying and monitoring factors that shape fire’s behavior. This is why it was no surprise that the topic seeming to receive the most discussion was live fuel moisture (LFM). This metric for water potential weaved through each of the topics covered because it is the single most important factor determining the amount of fuel available to burn, and how much fuel might be consumed during a wildfire.
As it turns out, LFM is proving to be the most reliable indicator of fire potential and behavior. But what exactly is it? Simply put, LFM is a measure of the amount of water in live vegetation. Leaves that are dry and crispy are easier to burn than juicy, watery ones. Scientists can study LFM and then create accurate models for predicting times of increased fire risk potential, and how to make ourselves more resilient in this fire-adapted landscape through our stewardship strategies.
Scientists are studying LFM by combining various state-of-the-art technologies for monitoring different aspects of our climate, allowing them to study those moisture levels with precision. Part of what we do at Pepperwood is to convene and partner with global experts to inform and amplify our work developing science-based solutions to reduce wildfire hazards that affect all terrestrial biodiversity and the landscape that sustains us.
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