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Effects of Fire Management on Carbon Sequestration in Sequoia Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks


Fires release carbon to the atmosphere through the combustion of organic material. Some of these greenhouse gases are returned to the landscape as biomass grows back subsequent to fires. The net change of carbon contained in vegetation on the landscape relative to pre-fire levels depends on the time since burning and the type of vegetation that grows back. The time for a forest to develop following a high severity wildfire can be several centuries, but fires that burn at lower severities may be able to replace biomass lost to fire in decadal timescales. The differing productivities of forests and their attendant regrowth rates, coupled with the characteristic fire return interval of each forest type make it difficult to determine whether [...]

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Principal Investigator :
Matthew L Brooks

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This project is designed to determine the extent to which fire management can protect forest carbon pools, both in terms of absolute amounts and the stability of these pools over time. This information is necessary so that the long-term effects of fire on carbon levels in Sierra Nevada forests are accounted for. Without this longer-term accounting, managed fires may only be recognized for their carbon emissions, and statutory limitations based on such one-sided, short-term accounting run the risk of unintentionally favoring management actions that reduce the long-term magnitude and stability of the Sierra Nevada forest carbon pool.

Project Extension

productDescriptionannual progress report delivered to NPS
productDescriptionfinal report for
productDescriptionpeer-reviewed journal article
productDescription1-page publication brief summarizing the management implications of the journal article
productDescriptionpresentation of the results to NPS staff in at least one workshop conducted at Yosemite and/or Sequoia Kings Canyon national parks


  • USGS Western Ecological Research Center


Field Station
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