Friday, August 2, 2013

Recent devastating wildfires could be result of climate change

RedOrbit: The larger, more destructive wildfires devastating some regions of the western US could be fueled by climate change, according to new research appearing in the Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology.

These erratic fires are more difficult to contain, as well as more dangerous to people living in the area and likely to cause catastrophic damage, lead author and Michigan State University assistant professor of geography Lifeng Luo and his colleagues said. Furthermore, they predict that the trend is likely to continue.

As Luo said Thursday in a statement, “Our findings suggest that future lower atmospheric conditions may favor larger and more extreme wildfires, posing an additional challenge to fire and forest management.”

...The increased size of the wildfires is mainly driven by natural factors, such as the availability of fuel (vegetation), precipitation, wind and the location of lightning strikes, the researchers explained. Specifically, they found that extremely dry and unstable conditions in the earth’s lower atmosphere will continue contributing to “erratic and extreme fire behavior.”

Furthermore, Luo and co-authors Ying Tang and Shiyuan Zhong from Michigan State, and Xindu Bian and Warren Heilman from the US Forest Service also wrote that “global climate change may have a significant impact on these factors, thus affecting potential wildfire activity across many parts of the world.”...

The Bambi Bucket attached to a Ch-47 Helicopter from the 2-149th, Texas National Guard, dumps water on a blaze nearing property. Texas National Guard crews launched out of the Austin Army Aviation Facility to fight wild fires threatening homes and property near Bastrop, Texas, September 6, 2011. Photo by Staff Sgt. Malcolm McClendon

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