Montana Wildfires Topic Of Bozeman Session April 11

Outlook for devastating losses to be probed in presentation.

Published on: Mar 13, 2013

A special Café Scientifique session at Montana State University's Institute on Ecosystems at 6 p.m. April 11 will feature Cathy Whitlock, earth science professor, probing wildfires in the state.

"Wildfires in Montana's Past and Its Future," will be the focus of the sessions in the Baxter Ballroom in Bozeman. As the next wildfire season nears, she will  discuss what has been learned and  what  can be expected, along with actions that might be advisable for farmers and ranchers.

Climate change and human activities may be altering fire regimes around the West. In the last 20 years, Montana has experienced larger and more  devastating fires than in recent history, she claims, raising concerns over why this is so.

Agricultural wildfires, like the one that set these hay bales ablaze, are the topic of an April 11 session in Bozeman, Mont.
Agricultural wildfires, like the one that set these hay bales ablaze, are the topic of an April 11 session in Bozeman, Mont.

Studies are showing that fires are a natural part of most ecosystems, but that current fire activity may be exceeding the norm. Future climate projections suggest that potentially rising temperatures may contribute to an increase in wildfires, threatening forests and human life.

Whitlock is an internationally recognized authority on the topic for her contributions and leadership in the field. She has published 140 scientific journal articles on the topic, and was recently named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for her work.

Café Scientifique attempts to provide a relaxed setting in which to learn about current issues. The concept was launched in England  in 1998 and has spread to a handful of locations throughout the U.S.

Whitlock has is a past president of the American Quarternary Association and serves on national and international advisory committees concerned with climate change. Her research has been funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, Joint Fire Sciences Program, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

She has research sites in Yellowstone National Park and other parts of the West, as well as in New Zealand, Tasmania and Patagonia.

For information, contact Laurie Howell at (406) 994-7531, or via email at lhowell@montana.edu.