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Master of Environmental Data Science

Climate Futures for Ecohydrological Modeling of Emerging Fire Regimes in Central Coast California

Group Members: Victoria Cutler, Erica Dale, Mallory Giesie, Lewis White

Faculty Advisors: Christina (Naomi) Tague

Client: UC Disaster Resilience Network + UCSB Natural Reserve System Collaborative




Climate-related environmental change in California is causing increased fire risk with significant impacts to our natural environment and communities. As catastrophic wildfires continue to become more prevalent, strategies to reduce the severity of these wildfires and help communities adapt to changing fire regimes are necessary. The Building Resilience to Wildfires Initiative, which uses the eco-hydrological model RHESSys-fire, is currently underway to model fire regimes and target adaptation strategies. 

This capstone contributes to this larger initiative by analyzing, generating, and visualizing potential climate-driven scenarios that scientists will use to estimate future fire risk and the likely effectiveness of different fuel treatment options. In this capstone, climate scenarios are analyzed using downscaled climate model predictions from Cal-Adapt in combination with more granular data to provide meaningful statistical summaries around various climate future possibilities. These climate scenarios are then used as inputs for RHESSys to compile our model estimates of changing hydrology, vegetation growth and fire regimes for our selected test scenarios. Deliverables for this project include an interactive tool that will allow scientists to efficiently extract or construct climate scenarios, generate RHESSys inputs for selected scenarios, and visualize these additional climate scenarios for communication with scientists, communities, and other stakeholders.

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