Research

My research is interdisciplinary. I use lake sediments (paleo data) to study past fires, vegetation, and climate changes to understand their interactions -- with each other and with human activities. I also study science communication and risk perceptions, particularly as they relate to weather and climate.

My fire research focuses on documenting and explaining where, when and why fires occur -- in the western U.S., in eastern North America, on other continents, and at the global scale -- with lots of help from the paleofire community. Fire fascinates me because it interacts with so many other things -- weather and climate changes, vegetation, topography, landscape structure, and human activities, like logging, grazing, agriculture, etc. Fires and their emissions (which include both carbon dioxide and methane) show large variations across both space and time. I take a long-term view of fire and am particularly interested in what happens to fires when there are very large, broad-scale climate or land-use changes, because these changes have major implications for economies, livelihoods, ecosystems, air pollution, and climate change.

I also study science communication and risk perceptions, primarily through the analysis of public opinion survey data. I conducted a study of Connecticut coastal residents hurricane risk perceptions, for example, and worked on a large mapping project to identify Americans' opinions about climate change at state, congressional district, and county levels. It is critical to understand risk perceptions because these are what motivate our decisions and actions when we are faced with a threat, whether real or perceived.

News Highlights of My Research

CBS - April 6, 2015
These states are least concerned about global warming

Slate - April 6, 2015
Americans don't think climate change will affect them personally

Dot Earth - August 29, 2013
The Yosemite Inferno in the Context of Forest Policy, Ecology and Climate Change

The Why? Files - July 11, 2013
Wildlands afire: What role for climate change?

USA Today - July 9, 2013
Water worries: Climate change in the desert Southwest

The Washington Post - July 16, 2012
The worst wildfire season in decades is causing significant environmental damage

Wired Science - July 6, 2012
How Fire Could Change the Face of the West

Scientific American - June 29, 2012
Fire Deficit May Trigger Fiercer Wildfires

Press Release - University of Oregon - February 14, 2012
A look back suggests a sobering future of wildfire dangers in US west

Nature Geoscience - September 21, 2008
The burning issue

Nature News - 12 October 2009
North America comet theory questioned

Science Daily - 27 January 2009
12,900 Years Ago: North American Comet Impact Theory Disproved

© 2011 Jenn Marlon