Reimagine fire science for the anthropocene


Jacquelyn K. Shuman, Jennifer K. Balch, Rebecca T. Barnes, Philip E. Higuera, Christopher I. Roos, Dylan W. Schwilk, E. N. Stavros, Tirtha Banerjee, Megan M. Bela, Jacob Bendx, Sandro Bertolino, Solomon Bililign, Kevin D. Bladon, Paulo Brando, Robert E. Breidenthal, Brian Buma, Donna Calhoun, Leila M. V. Carvalho, Megan E. Cattau, Kaelin M. Cawley, Sudeep Chandra, Melissa L. Chiman, Jeanette Cobian-Iñiguez, Erin Conlisk, Jonathan D. Coop, Alison Cullen, Kimberley T. Davis, Archana Dayalu, Fernando De Sales, Megan Dolman, Lisa M. Ellsworth, Scott Franklin, Christopher H. Guiterman, Matthew Hamilton, Erin J. Hanan, Winslow Hansen, Stijn Hantson, Brian J Harvey, Andrés Holtz, Tao Huang, Matthew D. Hurteau, Nayani T. Ilangakoon, Megan Jennings, Charles Jones, Anna Klimaszewski-Patterson, Leda N. Kobziar, John Kominoski, Branko Kosovic, Meg A. Krawchuk, Paul Laris, Jackson Leonard, S. M. Loria-Salazar, Melissa Lucash, Hussam Mahmoud, Ellis Margolis, Toby Maxwell, Jessica L. McCarty, David B. McWethy, Rachel S. Meyer, Jessica R. Miesel, W. K. Moser, R. C. Nagy, Dev Niyogi, Hannah M. Palmer, Adam Pellegrini, Benjamin Poulter, Kevin Robertson, Adrian V. Rocha, Mojtaba Sadegh, Fernanda Santos, Facundo Scordo, Joseph O. Sexton, A. S. Sharma, Alistair M. S. Smith, Amber J. Soja, Christopher Still, Tyson Swetnam, Alexandra D. Syphard, Morgan W. Tingley, Ali Tohidi, Anna T. Trugman, Merritt Turetsky, J. M. Varner, Yuhang Wang, Thea Whitman, Stephanie Yelenik, Xuan Zhang


PNAS Nexus


Fire is an integral component of ecosystems globally and a tool that humans have harnessed for millennia. Altered fire regimes are a fundamental cause and consequence of global change, impacting people and the biophysical systems on which they depend. As part of the newly emerging Anthropocene, marked by human-caused climate change and radical changes to ecosystems, fire danger is increasing, and fires are having increasingly devastating impacts on human health, infrastructure, and ecosystem services. Increasing fire danger is a vexing problem that requires deep transdisciplinary, trans-sector, and inclusive partnerships to address. Here, we outline barriers and opportunities in the next generation of fire science and provide guidance for investment in future research. We synthesize insights needed to better address the long-standing challenges of innovation across disciplines to (i) promote coordinated research efforts; (ii) embrace different ways of knowing and knowledge generation; (iii) promote exploration of fundamental science; (iv) capitalize on the “firehose” of data for societal benefit; and (v) integrate human and natural systems into models across multiple scales. Fire science is thus at a critical transitional moment. We need to shift from observation and modeled representations of varying components of climate, people, vegetation, and fire to more integrative and predictive approaches that support pathways toward mitigating and adapting to our increasingly flammable world, including the utilization of fire for human safety and benefit. Only through overcoming institutional silos and accessing knowledge across diverse communities can we effectively undertake research that improves outcomes in our more fiery future.



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