What Is “the Time of the Fire,” and Why Is It Harmful?

The map above shows when these three variables-temperature, humidity, and wind-combined to create fire days, are shown as a percentage change from 1973. All parts of Colorado have experienced at least 100 percent more fire days. Texas is also looking well, with the southern tip of the state seeing an increase of 284 percent. And Central California was equally troubled, with a 269 percent jump in fire -season days. “Southwest is really going to come out high,” Weber said. “We’ve even seen some parts of Oklahoma and Kansas, some of the places where we’re not used to thinking about fire.”

But if you’re wondering why we haven’t heard of devastating fires in the plains states, as felt in California, Oregon, and Colorado, that’s because “fire season” means the conditions are right for a fire – it doesn’t mean it has to happen. “We didn’t mention incineration on fire, ”says Weber.“ We’re told the number of days each year that weather elements are at the forefront of the scene for fires that are more dangerous to fight, and more difficult to fight. “

Atmospheric conditions are not the only variables that exacerbate the likelihood of fires. Land management decisions in California and Oregon, for example, play a role. The coastal regions are covered with forests that used to be regularly burned in a healthy way: Lightning comes from a small fire that burns the brush, clear way for new growth, but left many mature trees alive. Historically, Native Americans have also set intent on fire to strategically reset the ecosystem. The scene burned more, but this also means that it is less powerful, because the non -combustible brush has no time to accumulate in the middle of combustion.

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But in the last century or so, land managers have taken the opposite approach: put out fires, or immediately extinguish anything that might disturb residential areas. Construction is allowed on dry plant—Lots of fuel. And in many human communities living in the “wildland urban interface,” where forest meets towns, people also burn many accidental fires, whether they come from a cigarette butt thrown out a window or poor use of electricity infrastructure.

This is part of the reason why fires are more of a disaster in California than in Kansas or Oklahoma: There are more forests with more stored fuel, and more people living in bad. To adapt, land managers in western states need to create more controlled burning, which is to make brush-clearing work more frequent, small wildfires have been done in the past.

Climate change has also forced some seemingly contradictory weather changes. Because a warmer condition holds a lot of water, the worth the rain may actually increase in the future, while the elevation in the rainy season diminishes. In California, rain usually arrives in October and lasts until March. Now they will come later this year. “Summer lasts until normal rainfall,” says climate scientist Ruby Leung, of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “If we look at the climate models that anticipate the future, the fire season is much longer.”

Firefighters have already seen this happen. California gets the most fires in the fall, before the rains come, where the landscape is overly dry from the middle of the year without water. This is in line with the fierce seasonal winds that bring a lot of fire. But now that the rainy season is so short and the landscape has been almost a year dry, the fire season has come even earlier. “What we’ve seen over and over again is the fact that these fires are getting bigger and bigger, faster than ever,” Issac Sanchez, battalion communications chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said. told WIRED earlier this month. “That’s why around August, around the end of July, we’re seeing dry conditions that are entirely a result of climate change.”

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