Forest Mortality, Economics, and Climate in Western North America (FMEC)

The FMEC project aims to understand the interactions and the feedbacks by which human decisions and forest ecosystems influence each other.


This project is being carried out by Oregon State University Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society and College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Science. Please visit the project information page on the Oregon State University website for further information.

It uses the Community Land Model (CLM) to predict tree mortality due to droughts, fires, and insect attacks and couples this model with economic models to investigate the interactions and feedbacks between climate, tree mortality, and economic factors.

This will help us understand the relationship between land-use decisions and climate-induced vulnerability of forests to mortality and also help to identify policies and management strategies that can preserve forest function.

Some of the specific questions that this project will look at include:

  • Can we predict the integrated vulnerability of forests to mortality from multiple causes (including beetle attacks) in western North America?
  • Which thinning scenarios are best able to reduce tree mortality at a regional scale?
  • What are the impacts of future tree mortality on timber production, on carbon sequestration, and on the exchanges of carbon, water, and energy between a region and the atmosphere?


The FMEC project will use weather@home volunteer computing to quantify uncertainties in the models used by running a regional climate and vegetation model called HadRM3-TRIFFID.


Forests of western North America have experienced rapid and significant increases in severe die-offs from droughts, insect attacks, and fires. Tree mortality rates have increased significantly in this region, owing in large part to regional warming and subsequent water deficits. This increased mortality has led to closures of many lumber mills.