Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder

Jennifer Balch

Research Interests

We need to reassess the role of fire on Earth. At a global scale, we know very little about how fire influences ecosystem dynamics, and in turn, how ecosystem patterns and processes control the fire cycle. My research aims to understand the patterns and processes that underlie disturbance and ecosystem recovery, particularly how shifting fire regimes are reconfiguring tropical forests, encouraging non-native grass invasion, and affecting the global climate. My current and future research addresses the following major unsolved questions:

  • What is fire’s role in the Earth system? More specifically, how does fire contribute to global trends of climate warming and how does climate warming promote fire?
  • How are fire regimes altered by invasive species? Particularly, how is an invasive grass-fire cycle established and perpetuated?
  • How is the recent, unprecedented increase in human-initiated fires altering tropical-forest dynamics, and how has this increase in fire frequency changed carbon cycles and the recovery trajectory?

In addressing these questions, my research aims to explore global patterns of anthropogenic climate and land cover disruptions to help inform people about opportunities to curb and adapt to these changes.

 

View Publications

  • Iglesias V; Balch JK; Travis WR. (Mar 2022). U.S. fires became larger, more frequent, and more widespread in the 2000s. Science Advances , 8(11). 10.1126/sciadv.abc0020
  • Juang CS; Williams AP; Abatzoglou JT; Balch JK; Hurteau MD; Moritz MA. (Mar 2022). Rapid Growth of Large Forest Fires Drives the Exponential Response of Annual Forest-Fire Area to Aridity in the Western United States. Geophysical Research Letters , 49(5). 10.1029/2021GL097131
  • DeCastro AL; Juliano TW; Kosovic B; Ebrahimian H; Balch JK. (Mar 2022). A Computationally Efficient Method for Updating Fuel Inputs for Wildfire Behavior Models Using Sentinel Imagery and Random Forest Classification. Remote Sensing , 14(6). 10.3390/rs14061447
  • Balch JK; Abatzoglou JT; Joseph MB; Koontz MJ; Mahood AL; McGlinchy J; Cattau ME; Williams AP. (Feb 2022). Warming weakens the night-time barrier to global fire. Nature , 602(7897), 442-448. 10.1038/s41586-021-04325-1
  • Williams AP; Balch JK. (Feb 2022). The night brakes on fires are failing. Nature. 10.1038/d41586-022-00352-8
  • Nagy RC; Balch JK; Bissell EK; Cattau ME; Glenn NF; Halpern BS; Ilangakoon N; Johnson B; Joseph MB; Marconi S. (Dec 2021). Harnessing the NEON data revolution to advance open environmental science with a diverse and data-capable community. Ecosphere , 12(12). 10.1002/ecs2.3833
  • Fusco EJ; Balch JK; Mahood AL; Nagy RC; Syphard AD; Bradley BA. (Nov 2021). The human-grass-fire cycle: how people and invasives co-occur to drive fire regimes. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. 10.1002/fee.2432
  • Mahood AL; Jones RO; Board DI; Balch JK; Chambers JC. (Oct 2021). Interannual climate variability mediates changes in carbon and nitrogen pools caused by annual grass invasion in a semi?arid shrubland. Global Change Biology. 10.1111/gcb.15921
  • Mahood AL; Fleishman E; Balch JK; Fogarty F; Horning N; Leu M; Zillig M; Bradley BA. (Oct 2021). Cover-based allometric estimate of aboveground biomass of a non-native, invasive annual grass (Bromus tectorum L.) in the Great Basin, USA. Journal of Arid Environments , 193. 10.1016/j.jaridenv.2021.104582
  • Scholl VM; McGlinchy J; Price-Broncucia T; Balch JK; Joseph MB. (Jul 2021). Fusion neural networks for plant classification: learning to combine RGB, hyperspectral, and lidar data. PeerJ , 9. 10.7717/peerj.11790
  • Iglesias V; Braswell AE; Rossi MW; Joseph MB; McShane C; Cattau M; Koontz MJ; McGlinchy J; Nagy RC; Balch J. (Jun 2021). Risky Development: Increasing Exposure to Natural Hazards in the United States. Earths Future|0401 Atmospheric Sciences, 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience, 0502 Environmental Science and Management. 10.1029/2020ef001795
  • Armenteras D; Meza MC; Gonzalez TM; Oliveras I; Balch JK; Retana J. (Jan 2021). Fire threatens the diversity and structure of tropical gallery forests. Ecosphere , 12(1). 10.1002/ecs2.3347
  • Balch JK; St. Denis LA; Mahood AL; Mietkiewicz NP; Williams TM; McGlinchy J; Cook MC. (Nov 2020). FIRED (Fire Events Delineation): An Open, Flexible Algorithm and Database of US Fire Events Derived from the MODIS Burned Area Product (2001-2019). Remote Sensing , 12(21). 10.3390/rs12213498
  • Nagy RC; Fusco EJ; Balch JK; Finn JT; Mahood A; Allen JM; Bradley BA. (Oct 2020). A synthesis of the effects of cheatgrass invasion on US Great Basin carbon storage. Journal of Applied Ecology , 58(2), 327-337. 10.1111/1365-2664.13770
  • Mietkiewicz N; Balch JK; Schoennagel T; Leyk S; St. Denis LA; Bradley BA. (Sep 2020). In the Line of Fire: Consequences of Human-Ignited Wildfires to Homes in the U.S. (19922015). Fire , 3(3), 50-50. 10.3390/fire3030050
  • dos Santos Cury RT; Montibeller-Santos C; Balch JK; Brando PM; Torezan JMD. (Jul 2020). Effects of Fire Frequency on Seed Sources and Regeneration in Southeastern Amazonia. Frontiers in Forests and Global Change , 3. 10.3389/ffgc.2020.00082
  • Balch JK; Iglesias V; Braswell AE; Rossi MW; Joseph MB; Mahood AL; Shrum TR; White CT; Scholl VM; McGuire B. (Jul 2020). y Social-Environmental Extremes: Rethinking Extraordinary Events as Outcomes of Interacting Biophysical and Social Systems. Earths Future|0401 Atmospheric Sciences, 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience, 0502 Environmental Science and Management , 8(7). 10.1029/2019EF001319
  • Cury RTDS; Balch JK; Brando PM; Andrade RB; Scervino RP; Torezan JMD. (Jul 2020). Higher fire frequency impaired woody species regeneration in a south-eastern Amazonian forest. Journal of Tropical Ecology , 36(4), 190-198. 10.1017/S0266467420000176
  • Raymond C; Horton RM; Zscheischler J; Martius O; AghaKouchak A; Balch J; Bowen SG; Camargo SJ; Hess J; Kornhuber K. (Jun 2020). Understanding and managing connected extreme events. Nature Climate Change , 10(7), 611-621. 10.1038/s41558-020-0790-4
  • McLauchlan KK; Higuera PE; Miesel J; Rogers BM; Schweitzer J; Shuman JK; Tepley AJ; Varner JM; Veblen TT; Adalsteinsson SA. (Jun 2020). Fire as a fundamental ecological process: Research advances and frontiers. Journal of Ecology , 108(5), 2047-2069. 10.1111/1365-2745.13403
  • Leyk S; Uhl JH; Connor DS; Braswell AE; Mietkiewicz N; Balch JK; Gutmann M. (Jun 2020). Two centuries of settlement and urban development in the United States. Science Advances , 6(23). 10.1126/sciadv.aba2937
  • Scholl VM; Cattau ME; Joseph MB; Balch JK. (May 2020). Integrating National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) Airborne Remote Sensing and In-Situ Data for Optimal Tree Species Classification. Remote Sensing , 12(9). 10.3390/rs12091414
  • Rogers BM; Balch JK; Goetz SJ; Lehmann CER; Turetsky M. (Mar 2020). Focus on changing fire regimes: interactions with climate, ecosystems, and society. Environmental Research Letters , 15(3). 10.1088/1748-9326/ab6d3a
  • St Denis LA; Mietkiewicz NP; Short KC; Buckland M; Balch JK. (Feb 2020). All-hazards dataset mined from the US National Incident Management System 1999-2014. Scientific Data , 7(1). 10.1038/s41597-020-0403-0
  • Balch JK; Nagy RC; Halpern BS. (Feb 2020). NEON is seeding the next revolution in ecology. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment , 18(1), 3-3. 10.1002/fee.2152
  • Cattau ME; Wessman C; Mahood A; Balch JK. (Jan 2020). Anthropogenic and lightning-started fires are becoming larger and more frequent over a longer season length in the USA. Global Ecology and Biogeography , 29(4), 668-681. 10.1111/geb.13058
  • Sun, R; Balch, C. (Dec 2019). Comparison Between 1-D and 3-D Geoelectric Field Methods to Calculate Geomagnetically Induced Currents: A Case Study. IEEE TRANSACTIONS ON POWER DELIVERY , 34(6). 10.1109/TPWRD.2019.2905532
  • Fusco, EJ; Finn, JT; Balch, JK; Nagy, RC; Bradley, BA. (Nov 2019). Invasive grasses increase fire occurrence and frequency across US ecoregions. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA , 116(47). 10.1073/pnas.1908253116
  • Brando PM; Silverio D; Maracahipes-Santos L; Oliveira-Santos C; Levick SR; Coe MT; Migliavacca M; Balch JK; Macedo MN; Nepstad DC. (Sep 2019). Prolonged tropical forest degradation due to compounding disturbances: Implications for CO2 and H2O fluxes. Global Change Biology , 25(9), 2855-2868. 10.1111/gcb.14659
  • Joseph, M; Rossi, MW; Mietkiewicz, NP; Mahood, AL; Cattu, ME; St Dents, LA; Nagy, RC; Iglesias, V; Abatzoglou, JT; Balch, JK. (Sep 2019). Spatiotemporal prediction of wildfire size extremes with Bayesian finite sample maxima. ECOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS , 29(6). 10.1002/eap.1898
  • Williams, AP; Abatzoglou, JT; Gershunov, A; Guzman-Morales, J; Bishop, DA; Balch, JK; Lettenmaier, DP. (Aug 2019). Observed Impacts of Anthropogenic Climate Change on Wildfire in California. EARTHS FUTURE , 7(8). 10.1029/2019EF001210
  • Fusco, EJ; Finn, JT; Abatzoglou, JT; Balch, JK; Dadashi, S; Bradley, BA. (Jan 2019). Detection rates and biases of fire observations from MODIS and agency reports in the conterminous United States. REMOTE SENSING OF ENVIRONMENT , 220. 10.1016/j.rse.2018.10.028
  • Brando, PM; Paolucci, L; Ummenhofer, CC; Ordway, EM; Hartmann, H; Cattau, ME; Rattis, L; Medjibe, V; Coe, MT; Balch, J. (Jan 2019). Droughts, Wildfires, and Forest Carbon Cycling: A Pantropical Synthesis. ANNUAL REVIEW OF EARTH AND PLANETARY SCIENCES, VOL 47 , 47. 10.1146/annurev-earth-082517-010235
  • Mahood, Adam L., Jennifer K. Balch. (Jan 2019). Repeated fires reduce plant diversity in low elevation Wyoming big sagebrush ecosystems 1984-2014. , 10(2). 10.1002/ecs2.2591
  • R. Chelsea Nagy, Emily J. Fusco, Jennifer Balch, John T. Finn, Adam Mahood, Jenica Allen, Bethany A. Bradley. (Jan 2019). A synthesis of the effects of cheatgrass invasion on U.S. Great Basin carbon storage. 10.1002/ece3.3414
  • Smith AMS; Kolden CA; Prichard SJ; Gray RW; Hessburg PF; Balch JK. (Sep 2018). Recognizing Women Leaders in Fire Science. Fire , 1(2). 10.3390/fire1020030
  • Metcalfe, DB, W Rocha, JK Balch, PM Brando, CE Doughty and Y Malhi. (Aug 2018). Impacts of fire on sources of soil CO2 efflux in a dry Amazon rain forest. GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY , 24(8). 10.1111/gcb.14305
  • Bradley, BA, CA Curtis, EJ Fusco, JT Abatzoglou, JK Balch, S Dadashi and MN Tuanmu. (Jun 2018). Cheatgrass (Bromus tectorum) distribution in the intermountain Western United States and its relationship to fire frequency, seasonality, and ignitions. BIOLOGICAL INVASIONS , 20(6). 10.1007/s10530-017-1641-8
  • Abatzoglou JT; Balch JK; Bradley BA; Kolden CA. (Jan 2018). Human-related ignitions concurrent with high winds promote large wildfires across the USA. International Journal of Wildland Fire , 27(6), 377-386. 10.1071/WF17149
  • Balch, J., Schoennagel, T., Williams, P., Abatzoglou, J., Cattau, M. E., Mietkiewicz, N., St. Denis, L. (Jan 2018). Switching on the Big Burn of 2017. , 1(1). 10.3390/fire1010017
  • Nagy, RC, E Fusco, B Bradley, JT Abatzoglou, and J Balch. (Jan 2018). Human-Related Ignitions Increase the Number of Large Wildfires across U.S. Ecoregions. , 1(1). 10.3390/fire1010004
  • Joseph, M. B., Rossi, M., Mietkiewicz, N. P., Mahood, A. L., Cattau, M. E., St. Denis, L. A., Nagy, R. C., Iglesias, V., Abatzaglou, J., Balch, J. K.. (Jan 2018). Spatiotemporal prediction of wildfire extremes with Bayesian finite sample maxima. , 384115. 10.1101/384115
  • Schoennagel, T, JK Balch, H Brenkert-Smith, PE Dennison, BJ Harvey, MA Krawchuk, N Mietkiewicz, P Morgan, MA Moritz, R Rasker, MG Turner and C Whitlock. (May 2017). Adapt to more wildfire in western North American forests as climate changes. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA , 114(18). 10.1073/pnas.1617464114
  • Balch, JK, BA Bradley, JT Abatzoglou, RC Nagy, EJ Fusco and AL Mahood. (Mar 2017). Human-started wildfires expand the fire niche across the United States. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA , 114(11). 10.1073/pnas.1617394114
  • de Andrade, RB, JK Balch, AL Parsons, D Armenteras, RM Roman-Cuesta and J Bulkan. (Mar 2017). Scenarios in tropical forest degradation: carbon stock trajectories for REDD. CARBON BALANCE AND MANAGEMENT , 12. 10.1186/s13021-017-0074-0
  • de Andrade, RB, JK Balch, JYO Carreira, PM Brando and AVL Freitas. (Jan 2017). The impacts of recurrent fires on diversity of fruit-feeding butterflies in a south-eastern Amazon forest. JOURNAL OF TROPICAL ECOLOGY , 33. 10.1017/S0266467416000559
  • Fusco, EJ, JT Abatzoglou, JK Balch, JT Finn and BA Bradley. (Dec 2016). Quantifying the human influence on fire ignition across the western USA. ECOLOGICAL APPLICATIONS , 26(8). 10.1002/eap.1395
  • Huang, JX, ML Guan, J Balch, E Wu, HY Rao, A Lin, L Wei and AS Lok. (Nov 2016). Survey of hepatitis B knowledge and stigma among chronically infected patients and uninfected persons in Beijing, China. LIVER INTERNATIONAL , 36(11). 10.1111/liv.13168
  • Balch, JK, RC Nagy, S Archibald, DMJS Bowman, MA Moritz, CI Roos, AC Scott and GJ Williamson. (Jun 2016). Global combustion: the connection between fossil fuel and biomass burning emissions (1997-2010). PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES , 371(1696). 10.1098/rstb.2015.0177
  • Abatzoglou, JT, CA Kolden, JK Balch and BA Bradley. (Apr 2016). Controls on interannual variability in lightning-caused fire activity in the western US. ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH LETTERS , 11(4). 10.1088/1748-9326/11/4/045005
  • Balch, JK, PM Brando, DC Nepstad, MT Coe, D Silverio, TJ Massad, EA Davidson, P Lefebvre, C Oliveira-Santos, W Rocha, RTS Cury, A Parsons and KS Carvalho. (Sep 2015). The Susceptibility of Southeastern Amazon Forests to Fire: Insights from a Large-Scale Burn Experiment. BIOSCIENCE , 65(9). 10.1093/biosci/biv106
  • Massad, TJ, JK Balch, CL Mews, P Porto, B Marimon, RM Quintino, PM Brando, SA Vieira and SE Trumbore. (Jul 2015). Early recruitment responses to interactions between frequent fires, nutrients, and herbivory in the southern Amazon. OECOLOGIA , 178(3). 10.1007/s00442-015-3259-9
  • Parsons, AL, JK Balch, RB de Andrade and PM Brando. (Jan 2015). The role of leaf traits in determining litter flammability of south-eastern Amazon tree species. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF WILDLAND FIRE , 24(8). 10.1071/WF14182
  • Langen, TA, T Mourad, BW Grant, WK Gram, BJ Abraham, DS Fernandez, M Carroll, A Nuding, JK Balch, J Rodriguez and SE Hampton. (Aug 2014). Using large public datasets in the undergraduate ecology classroom. FRONTIERS IN ECOLOGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT , 12(6). 10.1890/1540-9295-12.6.362
  • Brando, PM, JK Balch, DC Nepstad, DC Morton, FE Putz, MT Coe, D Silverio, MN Macedo, EA Davidson, CC Nobrega, A Alencar and BS Soares. (Apr 2014). Abrupt increases in Amazonian tree mortality due to drought-fire interactions. PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA , 111(17). 10.1073/pnas.1305499111
  • Roos, CI, DMJS Bowman, JK Balch, P Artaxo, WJ Bond, M Cochrane, CM DAntonio, R DeFries, M Mack, FH Johnston, MA Krawchuk, CA Kull, MA Moritz, S Pyne, AC Scott and TW Swetnam. (Apr 2014). Pyrogeography, historical ecology, and the human dimensions of fire regimes. JOURNAL OF BIOGEOGRAPHY , 41(4). 10.1111/jbi.12285
  • Balch, JK. (Feb 2014). ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE Drought and fire change sink to source. NATURE , 506(7486). 10.1038/506041a
  • Rocha, W, DB Metcalfe, CE Doughty, P Brando, D Silverio, K Halladay, DC Nepstad, JK Balch and Y Malhi. (Jan 2014). Ecosystem productivity and carbon cycling in intact and annually burnt forest at the dry southern limit of the Amazon rainforest (Mato Grosso, Brazil). PLANT ECOLOGY & DIVERSITY , 7(2-Jan). 10.1080/17550874.2013.798368
  • Balch, JK, TJ Massad, PM Brando, DC Nepstad and LM Curran. (Jun 2013). Effects of high-frequency understorey fires on woody plant regeneration in southeastern Amazonian forests. PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES , 368(1619). 10.1098/rstb.2012.0157
  • Silverio, DV, PM Brando, JK Balch, FE Putz, DC Nepstad, C Oliveira-Santos and MMC Bustamante. (Jun 2013). Testing the Amazon savannization hypothesis: fire effects on invasion of a neotropical forest by native cerrado and exotic pasture grasses. PHILOSOPHICAL TRANSACTIONS OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY B-BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES , 368(1619). 10.1098/rstb.2012.0427
  • Massad, TJ, JK Balch, EA Davidson, PM Brando, CL Mews, P Porto, RM Quintino, SA Vieira, B Marimon and SE Trumbore. (May 2013). Interactions between repeated fire, nutrients, and insect herbivores affect the recovery of diversity in the southern Amazon. OECOLOGIA , 172(1). 10.1007/s00442-012-2482-x
  • Balch, JK, BA Bradley, CM DAntonio and J Gomez-Dans. (Jan 2013). Introduced annual grass increases regional fire activity across the arid western USA (1980-2009). GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY , 19(1). 10.1111/gcb.12046
  • Davidson, EA, AC de Araujo, P Artaxo, JK Balch, IF Brown, MMC Bustamante, MT Coe, RS DeFries, M Keller, M Longo, JW Munger, W Schroeder, BS Soares, CM Souza and SC Wofsy. (Mar 2012). The Amazon basin in transition (vol 481, pg 321, 2012). NATURE , 483(7388). 10.1038/nature10943
  • Brando, PM, DC Nepstad, JK Balch, B Bolker, MC Christman, M Coe and FE Putz. (Feb 2012). Fire-induced tree mortality in a neotropical forest: the roles of bark traits, tree size, wood density and fire behavior. GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY , 18(2). 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02533.x
  • Davidson, EA, AC de Araujo, P Artaxo, JK Balch, IF Brown, MMC Bustamante, MT Coe, RS DeFries, M Keller, M Longo, JW Munger, W Schroeder, BS Soares, CM Souza and SC Wofsy. (Jan 2012). The Amazon basin in transition. NATURE , 481(7381). 10.1038/nature10717
  • Bowman, DMJS, J Balch, P Artaxo, WJ Bond, MA Cochrane, CM DAntonio, R DeFries, FH Johnston, JE Keeley, MA Krawchuk, CA Kull, M Mack, MA Moritz, S Pyne, CI Roos, AC Scott, NS Sodhi and TW Swetnam. (Dec 2011). The human dimension of fire regimes on Earth. JOURNAL OF BIOGEOGRAPHY , 38(12). 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2011.02595.x
  • Balch, JK, DC Nepstad, LM Curran, PM Brando, O Portela, P Guilherme, JD Reuning-Scherer and O de Carvalho. (Jan 2011). Size, species, and fire behavior predict tree and liana mortality from experimental burns in the Brazilian Amazon. FOREST ECOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT , 261(1). 10.1016/j.foreco.2010.09.029
  • Balch, JK, DC Nepstad, PM Brando and A Alencar. (Dec 2010). Comment on "The Incidence of Fire in Amazonian Forests with Implications for REDD". SCIENCE , 330(6011). 10.1126/science.1194032
  • Silveira, JM, J Barlow, AV Krusche, KH Orwin, JK Balch and P Moutinho. (Nov 2009). Effects of experimental fires on litter decomposition in a seasonally dry Amazonian forest. JOURNAL OF TROPICAL ECOLOGY , 25. 10.1017/S0266467409990150
  • Bowman, DMJS, JK Balch, P Artaxo, WJ Bond, JM Carlson, MA Cochrane, CM DAntonio, RS DeFries, JC Doyle, SP Harrison, FH Johnston, JE Keeley, MA Krawchuk, CA Kull, JB Marston, MA Moritz, IC Prentice, CI Roos, AC Scott, TW Swetnam, GR van der Werf and SJ Pyne. (Apr 2009). Fire in the Earth System. SCIENCE , 324(5926). 10.1126/science.1163886
  • Balch, JK, DC Nepstad, PM Brando, LM Curran, O Portela, O de Carvalho and P Lefebvre. (Oct 2008). Negative fire feedback in a transitional forest of southeastern Amazonia. GLOBAL CHANGE BIOLOGY , 14(10). 10.1111/j.1365-2486.2008.01655.x
  • Rodriguez, JP, JK Balch and KM Rodriguez-Clark. (Jan 2007). Assessing extinction risk in the absence of species-level data: quantitative criteria for terrestrial ecosystems. BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION , 16(1). 10.1007/s10531-006-9102-1