An Economic Approach to Measuring the Impacts of Higher Temperatures on Wildfire Size in the Western United States

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect that higher temperatures will have on the size of wildfires in the western United States controlling for suppression effort, precipitation, and other factors. Using data for 466 wildfires that occurred on U.S. Forest Service land between 2003 and 2007, I find that an increase in temperature of 1 °C is associated with a 12% increase in wildfire size, holding all other factors constant. Given that current climate models predict temperatures to rise by 1.6 to 6.3 °C, this estimate suggests mean wildfire size could increase by 20% to 79%. Off-setting this increase in wildfire size would require an increase in suppression expenditures of at least 16% to 63%. For the average wildfire, this would translate into an increase in suppression expenditures of between $0.5 and $2 million.

Issue Date:
Jul 26 2015
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
Record Identifier:
PURL Identifier:
Total Pages:
JEL Codes:
Q23 Forestry; Q54 Global Warming

 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2018-01-23

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