About Brian Buma

Brian Buma

Senior Climate Scientist


Areas of expertise:

Climate change, environmental feedbacks, natural climate solutions, innovation, exploration


Brian studies innovative ways to alter the trajectory of climate change through natural systems, innovative technologies, and emerging expertise. Global in scale, his work aims to address the ways in which we can bend the curve of feedbacks and drive new ways to limit climate change, habitat loss, and biodiversity destruction. He co-leads the Climate Innovation Initiative at EDF, which focuses on finding emerging ways to mitigate climate change and smoothing the bottlenecks that may get in their way. A published author with over 65 scientific articles, many magazine pieces, and a book on climate change, he is also an international explorer and advocate for wilderness landscapes.


Brian was a tenured associate professor at the University of Colorado, Denver, prior to joining EDF; before that he was a  professor at the University of Alaska. Brian earned his PhD in ecosystem ecology in 2013 and is on the steering committee of the Arctic Migrations Network, the leadership committee of the Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research Station, and is a senior scientist with the Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center. Brian is passionate about the intersection of community engagement, art, and creativity in science. He is also a National Geographic Explorer and Explorer’s Club Fellow, in which capacity he conducts explorative research in all corners of the world and works to communicate science to classrooms and adult participants in a variety of media.


BS, Western Washington University, 2003

MS, Western Washington University, 2005

PhD, University of Colorado Boulder, 2013


Davis, KT, Robles MD, Kemp KB, Higuera PE, Chapman T, Metlen KL, Peeler JL, Rodman KC, Woolley T, Addington RN, Buma B, et al. 2023. Reduced fire severity offers near term buffer to climate driven declines in conifer resilience across the western United States. PNAS. 120: e2209120120

Pawlik L, Buma B, Wistuba M, Malik I, Slezak A. 2023. Trees as bioindicators of hillslope degradation by debris flows and dangerous rockfalls along the Lefthand Canyon, Colorado Front Range. Land Degradation and Development. In press.

Buma B. 2022. Alternate growth forms can protect climate-threatened trees from freezing stressors. Forest Science. 68(5-6): 435-439.

LaRue EA, Fahey RT, Alvershere BC, Atkins JW, Bhatt P, Buma B, Chen A, Cousins S, Elliot JM, Elmore EJ, Hakkenberg CR, Hardiman BS, Johnson JS, Kashian DM, Koirala A, Papes M, St. HilaireJB, Susasinghe T, Zambrano J, Zhai L, Fei S. A theoretical framework for the ecological role of structural diversity. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. In press.

Shuman JK, Balch JK, Barnes RT, Higuera PE, Roos CI, Schwilk DW, Stavros N, Banjeree T, Bela MM, Bendix J, Bertolino S, Bililgn S, Bladon KD, Brando P, Breidenthal RE, Buma B, & 72 more. Reimagine fire science for the Anthropocene. PNAS Nexus. 1(3): pgac115 https://doi.org/10.1093/pnasnexus/pgac115

Carter, T, Hayes K, Buma B. Putting More Fuel on the Fire… Or Maybe Not? A Synthesis of Spruce Beetle and Fire Interactions in North American Subalpine Forests. Landscape Ecology. In press.

Hayes K, Carter T, Cook P, Twaddell E, Buma B. Supporting Graduate Field Leadership through Community-Sourced Advice, Action, and Policy. Ecosphere. In press.

Buma B, Morello F, Rodriguez K, Serrano Fillol A. 2022. The southernmost end point of pre-industrial human expansion found on Isla Hornos (Isla Lököshpi), Chile. Antiquity.  In press.             Featured in Nature: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-02111-1

Buma B, Hayes K, Weiss S, Lucash M. 2022. Short interval fires increasing in the boreal forest as fire self-regulation decays, especially in drier coniferous forest landscapes. Scientific Reports 12:4901

Mitchell JC, Kashian DM, Chen X, Cousins S, Flaspohler D, Gruner DG, Johnson KS, Surasinghe T, Zambrano J, Buma B. Forest ecosystem properties emerge from interactions of structure and disturbance. Frontiers in Ecology and Environment. In press.

Aguirre F, Squeo AF, Lopez D, Crego R, Buma B, Casassa G, Rozzi R. 2022. Gradientes climáticos y su influyente rol sobre los ecosistemas terrestres de la Reserva de Biósfera Cabo de Hornos, Chile. Anales del Instituto de la Patagonia. In press.

Bisbing S, Buma B, VanderNaald B, Bisbing AL. 2022. Single-tree salvage logging as a response to Alaska yellow-cedar climate-induced mortality maintains ecological integrity with limited economic returns. Forest Ecology and Management. 503(1): 119815

Vascik B, Booth AM, Buma B, Berti M. 2021. Estimated Amounts and Rates of Carbon Mobilized by Landsliding in Old-Growth Temperate Forests of SE Alaska. AGU Biogeosciences. 126(11): e2021JG006321.

Buma B. 2021. Disturbance ecology and the problem of n = 1. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 12(12): 2276-2286.

Bidlack AL, Bisbing S, Buma B, Diefenderfer H, Fellman J, Floyd W, Giesbrecht I, Lally A, Lertzman K, Perakis S, Butman D, D’Amore D, Fleming S, Hood E, Hunt B, Kiffney P, McNicol G, Menounos B, Tank S. Climate-Mediated Changes to Linked Terrestrial and Marine Ecosystems across the Northeast Pacific Coastal Temperate Rainforest Margin. 2021. BioScience. 71(6): 581-595.

Bisbing S, Urza AK, Buma B, Cooper DJ, Matocq M, Angert AL. 2021. Can long-lived species keep pace with climate change? Evidence of local persistence potential in a widespread conifer. Diversity and Distributions. 27 (2), 296-312

Pawlik L†, Buma B, Samonil P, Kvacek J, Galazka A, Malik I, Kohout P. 2020. Impact of trees and forests on the Devonian landscape and weathering processes with implications to the global Earth's system properties - A critical review. Earth-Science Reviews. 205: 103200

Leverkus AB, Buma B, Wagenbrenner J, Burton P, Lingua E, Marzano R, Thorn S.  2021. Tamm review: Does salvage logging mitigate subsequent forest disturbances? Forest Ecology and Management. 481, 118721

Hayes K, Buma B. 2021, Effects of short-interval disturbances continue to accumulate, overwhelming variability in local resilience. Ecosphere. 12 (3), e03379

Buma B, Pawlik L. 2021. Post-landslide soil and vegetation recovery in a dry, montane system is slow and patchy. Ecosphere. 12(1) p.e03346.

Buma B, Holz A, Diaz I, Rozzi R. 2021. The world’s southernmost tree and global southern treeline. Ecography. 44(1):14-24.

Rozzi R, Cregro RD, Contador T, Shuttler E, Rosenfeld S, Mackenzie R, Barroso O, Silva-Rodriguez EA, Alvarez-Bustos X, Silva A, Ramirez I, Mella J, Horreros J, Rendoll-Carcamo J, Marambio J, Ojeda J, Mendez F, Moses KP, Kennedy J, Russell S, Goffinet B, Sancho LG, Berchez F, Buma B, Aguirre F, Sanchez-Jardon L, Barros E, Vasquez RA, Arroyo MTK, Poulin E, Squeo F, Armesto JJ, Mansilla A, Masarado F. 2020. Un centinela para el monitoreo del cambio climático y su impacto sobre la biodiversidad en la cumbre austral de América: la nueva red de estudios a largo Plazo Cabo de Hornos. Anales de la Instituto de Patagonia. 48(3): 45-81.

Buma B, Schultz C. 2020. Disturbances as Opportunities: Can we learn from disturbance-response parallels in social and ecological systems to better adapt to climate change? Journal of Applied Ecology. 57:1113–1123.

Booth A, Sifford C, Siebert C, Buma B. 2020. Large wood inhibits debris flow runout in forested southeast Alaska. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms. 45(7): 1555-1568.

Buma B, Weiss S, Hayes K*, Lucash M. 2020. Reburning increasing across the US West, with a limited amount of negative feedbacks. Environmental Research Letters. 15:034026

Kulakowski D, Buma B, Guz J, Hayes K*. 2019. The ecology of forest disturbances. Reference Module in Earth Systems and Environmental Science. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-409548-9.11878-0

Wiles G, Charlton J, Wilson R, D’Arrigo R, Buma B, Krapek J*, Gaglioti B, Wiesenberg N, Oelkers R. 2019. Yellow-cedar blue intensity tree ring chronologies as records of climate and forest-climate response, Juneau, Alaska, USA. Canadian Journal of Forest Research.  49(12): 1483-1492

Buma B, Bisbing S, Wiles G, Bidlack A. 2019. 100 yr of primary succession highlights stochasticity and competition driving community establishment and stability. Ecology. 100(12): e02885

McWethy DB, Schoennagel T, Higuera PE, Krawchuk M, Harvey BJ, Metcalf EC, Schultz C, Miller C, Metcalf AL, Buma B, Virapongse A, Kulig JC, Stedman RC, Ratajczak Z, Nelson CR, Kolden C. 2019. Rethinking resilience to wildfire. Nature Sustainability. 2:797–804

Bisbing S, Buma B, Oakes L, Krapek J*, Bidlack A. 2019. From canopy to seed: Loss of snow drives directional changes in forest composition. Ecology and Evolution. 9(14): 8157-8174.

Buma B, Battelori E, Bisbing S, Holz A, Hennon PE, Mortiz M, Saunders SE, Creutzburg MK, DellaSala DA, Gregovich D, Krapek J*, Zaret K, Bidlack A. 2019. Emerging freeze and fire dynamics in temperate rainforests. Austral Ecology. 44: 812-826.

Johnson A*, Kruger L, Noel J, Gregovich D, Buma B.  2019. Impacts of Submerging and Emerging Shorelines on Various Biota and Indigenous Alaskan Harvesting Patterns. Journal of Coastal Research.  35(4): 765-775.

Buma B, Thompson T. 2019. Long-term exposure to more frequent disturbances increases baseline carbon in some ecosystems: Mapping and quantifying the disturbance frequency-ecosystem C relationship. PLOS One.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0212526

Higuera P, Metcalf A, Miller C, Buma B, McWethy D, Metcalf E, Ratajczak Z, Nelson C, Chaffin B, Stedman R, McCaffrey S, Schoennagel T, Harvey B, Hood S, Schultz C, Black A, Campbell D, Haggerty J, Keane R, Krawchuk M, Kulig J, Rafferty R, Virapongse A. 2019. Integrating subjective and objective dimensions of resilience in fire-prone landscapes. BioScience.  69(5): 379-388.

Buma B, Harvey B, Gavin D, Kelly R, Loboda T, McNeil B, Marlon J, Meddens AJH, Morris JL, Raffa K, Shuman B, Smithwick E, McLauchlan K. 2019. The value of linking short and long-term perspectives to understand spatially-explicit ecosystem resilience. Landscape Ecology 34(1): 17-33.

McNicol G, Bulmer C, D'Amore DV, Sanborn P, Saunders S, Giesbrecht I, Gonzalez-Arriola S, Bidlack AL, Butman D, Buma B. 2019. Large, climate-sensitive soil carbon stocks mapped with pedology-informed machine learning in the North Pacific coastal temperate rainforest. Environmental Research Letters. 14 014004

Sommerfeld A, Senf C, Buma B, D’Amato AW, Despres T, Diaz-Hormazabal, Fraver S, Frelich LE, Gutierrez AG, Hart SJ, Harvey BJ, He HS, Hlasny T, Holz A, Kitzberger T, Kulakowski D, Lindenmeyer D, Mori AS, Muller J, Paritsis J, Perry GLW, Stephens S, Svoboda M, Tuner MG, Veblen TT, Seidl R. 2018. Patterns and drivers of recent disturbances across the temperate forest biome.  Nature Communications.  9: 4355.     

Buma B.  2018.  Transitional climate mortality: Slower warming may result in increased climate-induced mortality in some systems.  Ecosphere. 9(3): e02170.

Buma B. 2018. On the value of wasting paper. Science. 11(360): 10.1126 

Krapek J, Buma B.  2018. Persistence following punctuated range extension: limited dispersal of migrating tree despite habitat ahead of its range.  Journal of Ecology 106: 911-924.

Buma B, Costanza JK, Riitters K. 2017.  Determining the size of a complete disturbance landscape:  Multi-scale, continental analysis of forest change.  Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 189: 642. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10661-017-6364-x

Krapek J, Hennon PE, D’Amore DV, Buma B.  2017. Despite available habitat, migration of climate-threatened tree appears punctuated with past pulse tied to Little Ice Age climate period.  Diversity and Distributions.  23(12): 1381-1392.           

Gill N, Kulakowski D, Sangermano F, Buma B. 2017. Populus tremuloides seedling establishment: An underexplored vector for forest type conversion after multiple disturbances.  Forest Ecology and Management.  404: 156-164.

Riitters K, Costanza JK, Buma B.  2017. Interpreting multiscale domains of tree cover disturbance patterns in North America. Ecological Indicators.  doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2017.05.022

Buma B., Livneh B. 2017. Key landscape and biotic indicators of watersheds sensitivity to forest disturbance. Environmental Research Letters.  12:074028

Buma B, Bisbing S, Krapek J, Wright G.  2017. A foundation of ecology re-discovered:  100 years of succession on the William S Cooper permanent plots shows importance of contingency in community development. Ecology.  98(6): 1513-1523.

Buma B, Hennon PE, Harrington CA, Popkin JR, Krapek J, Lamb M, Oakes LE, Saunders SC, Zeglen S.  2017. Emerging broad-scale mortality driven by climate warming and loss of snowpack.  Global Change Biology.  23(7): 2903-2914.

Bidlack A, Bisbing S, Buma B, D’Amore DV, Hennon P, Huette T, Krapek J, Mulvey R, Oakes LE. 2017. Alternative interpretation and scale-based context for No evidence of recent (1995-2013) decrease in yellow-cedar in Alaska (Barrett and Pattison 2017).  Canadian Journal of Forest Research.  47(8): 1145-1151.

Fellman JB, Buma B, Hood E, Edwards RT, D’Amore DV.  2017. Linking LiDAR with streamwater biogeochemistry in coastal temperate rainforest watersheds.  Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences.  74(6):801-811

Buma B, Krapek J, Edwards RT.  2016. Watershed-scale forest biomass distribution in a perhumid temperate rainforest as driven by topographic, soil, and disturbance variables.  Canadian Journal of Forest Research.  46(6): 844-854.Mayer AL, Buma B, Davis A, Gagne SA, Loudermilk EL, Scheller R, Schmiegelow F, Wiersma Y, Franklin J.  2016. How landscape ecology informs global land change science and policy. BioScience.  66(6): 458-469.

Kranabetter JM, KK McLauchlan, SK Enders, JM Fraterrigo, PE Higuera, JL Morris, EB Rastetter, R Barnes, B Buma, DG Gavin, LM Gerhart, L Gillson, P Hietz, MC Mack, B McNeil, S Perakis.  2016.  A framework to assess biogeochemical response to ecosystem disturbance using nutrient partitioning ratios.  Ecosystems.  19: 387-395.

Krapek J, Buma B.  2015.  Yellow-cedar:  Climate change and natural history at odds.  Frontiers in Ecology and Environment.  13: 280-281.

Buma B, Livneh B.  2015. Potential effects of forest disturbances and management on water resources in a warmer climate.  Forest Science.  61: 895-903.

Buma B, Barrett T.  2015.  Signs of disturbance disequilibrium and directional change in the world’s largest temperate rainforest.  Global Change Biology.  21: 3445-3454.

Buma B.  2015. Disturbance interactions:  Characterization, prediction, and the potential for cascading effects.  Ecosphere.  6:art70.

Livneh B., J.S. Deems, B. Buma, J.J. Barsugli, D. Schneider, N.P. Molotch, K. Wolter, and C.A. Wessman, 2015. Catchment response to bark beetle outbreak in the upper Colorado River basin. Journal of Hydrology.  523: 196-210.           

Buma B, Johnson AC. 2015.  The role of windstorm exposure and yellow cedar decline on landslide susceptibility in southeast Alaskan temperate rainforests. Geomorphology.  228, 504-511.           

Buma B, Poore B, Wessman CA.  2014. Disturbances, Their Interactions, and Cumulative Effects on Carbon and Charcoal Stocks in a Forested Ecosystem.  Ecosystems.  17(6): 947-959.           

Buma B, Hennon PE, Bidlack AL, Baichtal JF, Ager TA, Streveler G.  2014.  Correspondence regarding “The problem of conifer species migration lag in the Pacific Northwest region since the last glaciation” by Elias, S.A., 2013, Quaternary Science Reviews 77, 53-69.            

McLauchlan, K.K., P.E. Higuera, D.G. Gavin, S.S. Perakis, M.M. Mack, H. Alexander, J. Battles, F. Biondi, B. Buma, D. Colombaroli, S.K. Enders, D.R. Engstrom, F.S. Hu, J. Marlon, J. Marshall, M. McGlone, J. Morris, L. Nave, B.N. Shuman, E.A.H. Smithwick, D. Urrego, D. Wardle, C. Williams, and J.J. Williams. 2014. Reconstructing disturbances and their biogeochemical consequences over multiple timescales. BioScience. 64(2): 105-116.           

Buma B.  2014.  Nutrient responses to ecosystem disturbances from annual to multi-millennial timescales.  New Phytologist. 1: 13-15.           

Buma B, Brown C, Donato D, Fontaine J, Johnstone J.  2013.  The impacts of changing disturbance regimes on serotinous plant populations and communities.  BioScience 63(11): 866-876.           

Buma B, Wessman CA.  2013.  Forest resilience, climate change, and opportunities for adaptation:  A specific case of a general problem.  Forest Ecology and Management.  306: 216-225.           

Buma B, Pugh ET, Wessman CA.  2013.  Effect of a major insect outbreak on phenological and LAI trends in southern Rocky Mountain forests.  International Journal of Remote Sensing.  34(20): 7249-7274.           

Buma B.  2013.  Don’t give up just yet:  Maintaining species, services, and systems in a changing world.  Invited commentary on:   Sandler R.  Climate Change and Ecosystem Management.  Ethics, Policy, and Environment.  16(1): 1-4.            

Buma B, Wessman CA.  2013.  Management, science, and disturbances as opportunities for adaptive transformation of forests.  The International Journal of Climate Change.  4(3): 77-87.           

Buma B, Wessman CA.  2012.  Differential species responses to compounded perturbations and implications for landscape heterogeneity and resilience.  Forest Ecology and Management, 266:25-33.           

Buma B.  2012.  Evaluating the utility and seasonality of NDVI values for assessing post-disturbance recovery in a subalpine forest.  Environmental Monitoring and Assessment.  184(6):3849-3860.           

Buma B, Wessman CA.  2011.  Disturbance interactions can impact resilience mechanisms of forests.  Ecosphere.  2(5):art64.