Dissertation Defense: Shane Coffield
Title: Statistical modeling of climate change impacts on ecosystems and wildfire in the Western US
Abstract: Ecosystems in the Western US face a combination of climate-driven threats including warming temperature, drought, and wildfire. How ecosystems respond to these threats is directly relevant for human health, water availability, and carbon storage toward climate mitigation, among other services. In this talk I will summarize my PhD dissertation research, where I used statistical and machine learning techniques along with large-scale geospatial datasets to explore several questions at the intersection of climate change and ecosystems. As part of this work, I developed a new framework for wildfire prediction, quantified the future impacts of climate change on carbon storage and wildfire, and assessed the effectiveness of current forest carbon offsets in California. The collective results highlight key scientific uncertainties, including uncertainty in future precipitation, while offering paths forward for effective ecosystem management in the face of a rapidly changing climate.