The contemporary fire regime of the central Appalachian Mountains and its relation to climate Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper uses records of wildland fire to investigate the contemporary fire regime on federal lands in the central Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and West Virginia. During the study period (1970-2003), 1557 anthropogenic fires and 344 natural fires occurred on these lands. Most were small, low-intensity burns. However, fires of moderate to high intensity also occurred, and because of their larger sizes they were responsible for most of the area burned. Fire size also differed between natural and anthropogenic fires (median size 1.2 ha vs. 0.4 ha). A few of the anthropogenic fires were quite large, however (up to 6484 ha), whereas the largest natural fire measured only 1188 ha. Anthropogenic fires burned more area than natural fires and consequently they had a shorter fire cycle (1196 years for anthropogenic fires, 6138 years for natural fires). These fire cycles appear to be much longer than in the past, prior to fire suppression. Nonetheless, despite suppression efforts, a substantial amount of fire activity occurred during the study period when conditions were sufficiently dry. The dry conditions of spring and fall were especially favorable for burning. Moreover, on an interannual level, drought had a strong influence on the amount of fire activity. 2005 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

published proceedings


altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Lafon, C. W., Hoss, J. A., & Grissino-Mayer, H. D.

citation count

  • 54

complete list of authors

  • Lafon, CW||Hoss, JA||Grissino-Mayer, HD

publication date

  • January 2005