National Interagency Coordination Center

National Seasonal Assessment Workshops for Fire Potential

Project Dates

Beginning with a seminal workshop in 2000, organized by CLIMAS and University of Arizona scientists, CLIMAS has been a leader in the process of bridging the worlds of fire managers and climate researchers. The initial workshop in 2000 spawned two workshops in 2001: Fire and Climate in the Southwest and Fire and Climate 2001 in the West. The success of these meetings led to the 2002 Fire in the West workshop. These annual workshops brought fire managers, applied fire researchers, and climate forecasters together to exchange information and ideas. This process has evolved into a partnership to evaluate the potential for significant wildland fire activity, which became institutionalized in the form of the National Seasonal Assessment Workshops (2003-2012), and fully operationalized by the National Interagency Coordination Center.

The National Seasonal Assessment Workshops (NSAW) were developed by a partnership between CLIMAS, the National Interagency Coordination Center’s Predictive Services (NICC), and the Program for Climate, Ecosystem and Fire Applications (CEFA) at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, Nevada. The impetus for the partnership and associated workshops is to improve information available to fire management decision makers for allocation of firefighting resources at local, regional, and national scales. The collaboration is grounded in a commitment to sustained interaction between partnering institutions, equality in partnership, and clear partnership responsibilities.

In collaboration with 11 Geographic Area Coordination Centers (GACCs), NOAA Climate Prediction Center, California Applications Program RISA, Western Water Assessment RISA, Southeast Climate Consortium RISA, Scripps Institution of Oceanography Experimental Climate Prediction Center, and others, the NSAWs brought together fire meteorologists, fire behavior analysts, fuel specialists, fire managers, climate forecasters, and climate researchers for a focused exchange of ideas and work sessions. The workshop participants produced pre-season fire potential outlooks for the eastern half of the U.S. (in January each year), and the western half of the U.S. plus Alaska (in late March or early April each year).

In 2007, the National Interagency Coordination Center’s Predictive Services began to operationalize national monthly and seasonal outlooks, on an experimental basis. Since then, these “monthly-seasonal outlooks” are produced by NICC, with input from partners in the applied climate forecasting and fire management and research communities. CLIMAS continues to be involved with fire prediction efforts, primarily through the work of CLIMAS affiliate, Tim Brown and through the North American Climate Services Partnership.