Forestry Seminar: Dan Krofcheck

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October 27, 2021 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Monitoring and modeling wildfire and fuels in complex natural systems: applications for management and critical infrastructure decision making


Abstract: Forests play a critical role in our society, through the provision of numerous services and the regulation of our climate. Forest management decisions made at local and regional scales consequently impact globally shared systems, and yet many decision making frameworks overlook or choose not to include the consideration that forests are inherently coupled complex systems. In the Southwestern US, detriment to these systems has been realized through the combination of fire exclusion, poor management, increasing human interfaces, and the changing climate. Consequently, the impact of climate change interactions with drought and fire driven landscape conversion may result in hysteretic processes, reducing the likelihood that these sensitive forests return to pre-disturbance states. This raises the stakes for ecosystem scientists and modelers, and should drive our community to think about novel and impactful ways to model these systems. However, understanding what is ‘best’ for the forest requires framing an objective function – and no single optimization target will satisfy all interested parties. Consequently, modeling efforts that seek to inform policy and management decision making should strive to incorporate and wrestle with these concepts. Here, I step through some of the modeling efforts I have been involved in that aimed to understand how best to navigate this multivariate problem, using an example from a landscape in the Sierra Nevada and the Santa Fe National Forests.

Bio: Dr. Krofcheck is a complex systems scientist and ecophysiologist who studies systems interactions in high consequence settings. He received his undergraduate degree in chemistry and environmental studies at Ohio Wesleyan University, followed by his PhD in biology at the University of New Mexico, working with Dr. Marcy Litvak. Dr. Krofcheck's fire ecology experience began shortly thereafter, at the University of New Mexico working with Dr. Matt Hurteau. He is especially interested in how synoptic stressors can affect  landscapes in non-linear ways, affording heterogeneous responses to homogeneous drivers. These kinds of interactions are often poorly described in earth systems and landscape process models, and yet we rely on modeling to help us make decisions about how to interact with the natural world in the future. This way of thinking has gotten Dr. Krofcheck excited about coupled human-natural systems, machine learning and artificial intelligence.


Please follow the host instructions after the talk for the Q&A. Additionally, please consider attending the graduate student discussion from 5:00-6pm by joining in on the following Zoom link: (Meeting ID: 833 9317 2036) Password: discussion


The current seminar schedule can be viewed here:


Please reach out to me if you have any questions.