The first chapter surveys fire and fuels managers at local, regional, and national levels. Survey results in the form of fire managers’ decision calendars show how climate information needs vary seasonally, over space, and through the organizational network. The study identifies opportunities to use climate information in fire management, including seasonal to inter-annual climate forecasts at all organizational levels, to improve the targeting of fuels treatments and prescribed burns, the positioning and movement of initial attack resources, and staffing and budgeting decisions.
The second chapter analyzes National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) data to quantify the economic impacts of flooding across the western United States from 1978 to 2007. The study compares National Flood Insurance Program data to National Weather Service measures of total damages, and presents a spatial and temporal analysis of daily claims and loss data over this period. The NFIP data reveals that a small number winter-season extreme hydrologic events, covering wide spatial areas, are responsible for a large proportion of total losses. In coastal southern California and across the southwest, El Niño conditions have had a strong effect in producing more frequent and higher magnitudes of insured losses while La Niña conditions significantly reduce both the frequency and magnitude losses. In the Pacific Northwest, the opposite pattern appears, though the effect is somewhat weaker, and less spatially coherent.
The third chapter quantifies the economic impacts of flooding due to atmospheric river (AR) events in the western United States from 1978 to 2007, using NFIP claims and loss data. The study confirms that AR-related flood events cause significant economic damages and form the primary source of insurance claims and insured flood losses in the western coastal states. It provides spatial and temporal characterizations of damages as a function of integrated vapor transport (IVT) and antecedent hydrologic conditions.
As the magnitude and frequency of wildfire and flood events change in response to anthropogenic climate change, and as economic and demographic contributions to vulnerability increase over time, public policy must adapt to respond. The results in these papers may be used to inform policies to mitigate losses and respond to future disaster scenarios, and may be of interest to policy makers and applied climate researchers alike.