In 2010, researchers from the U.S. first traveled to Tasmania and New Zealand to collect data on the impacts of wildfire. Using tree ring cores and columns of mud drawn from lakes, the researchers can piece together the history of fire in different landscapes.
Because New Zealand is one of the last countries on Earth to be colonized by humans, the researchers can compare the fire history of its 700 years of human settlement to the 10,000 to 13,000 years of human settlement in the western United States. The information then allows the team to study whether changes in fire patterns might be connected to humans and their use of the land or climate change or both.
The data from the Southern Hemisphere will also help researchers make predictions about the impacts of fire in the Northern Rocky Mountains.
The films about the project are online at http://vimeo.com/
Classroom teachers who are unable to access the films online can request a DVD by contacting Todd Kipfer with the Montana Institute on Ecosystems (IOE) at email@example.com or (406) 994-7977.
The films were produced by Danny Schmidt and Savannah Lozier in MSU's Natural History Filmmaking program under the direction of Dennis Aig, and are being disseminated as an outreach partnership of IOE, Montana NSF EPSCoR and MSU Extended University.