Beginning in January 2016, Melanie will be conducting research to reflexively measure and evaluate the process of science co-production and communication within this context. Specifically, she will investigate the decision contexts of wildfire management in Alaska, explore organizational frameworks for connecting science with users, analyze the innovation of decision-support services and evolution of use-inspired science, and contribute to generalizable knowledge to inform decisions through science application.
The forests that cover one-third of Alaska are burning more widely and frequently. Although wildfires are a natural part of boreal forest and tundra ecosystems, warmer temperatures, longer snow-free seasons, changes in vegetation, and insect outbreaks have led to longer and more active fire seasons in Alaska. The area burned in Alaska was twice as large in the past decade (2000-2009) than any decade in the previous 40 years (1960-1999); 6.6 million acres burned in the peak year of 2004. Models predict that the area burned per decade will double again by the middle of the century. We need to understand how this may affect landscapes, communities, wildlife, and other resources.