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<=""> . Wildfires . Firefighters say they have never seen fires burn the way they did in the 2013 fire season. . Mountains underwent a lot of changes in 2013 . Winters were warmer causing smaller snowpacks that melted earlier.
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<=""> Wildfires Firefighters say they have never seen fires burn the way they did in the 2013 fire season.
Mountains underwent a lot of changes in 2013 • Winters were warmer causing smaller snowpacks that melted earlier. • Forests dried out earlier and fire season started early and lasted longer. • Summer arrived hotter and drier than normal. • In August and September low humidity, wind and other unstable atmospheric conditions created erratic burning. • Climate changes are causing more fires to burn hotter and longer resulting in a more intense fire season.
Tragic Fire Season had few fires • Although the number of fires hit an all time low in 2013 it was one of the deadliest for firefighters. • The Yardnell Hill Fire in Arizona killed 19 firefighters. The highest death toll for a single fire in the last 80 years. • The low number of fires and acres burned were due because of fortuitous weather conditions. 2013 did not have either atmospheric circulation that are usually associated with an active fire season, meaning it was neither an El Nino or a La Nina climate pattern. • http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2013/11/23/wildfire-season/3674707/
In west low snowpack melts quickly causing forests at higher elevations to dry out. • http://www.nbcnews.com/id/18416843/
A Changing Fire Environment “The frequency, severity and extent of wildfire is strongly linked to climate. With the warming climate we are experiencing earlier snowmelt , lower summer moisture and fuel moisture, more drought, and longer fire seasons”.
Yarnell Fire: photos by David Kadlubowski/The Arizona Repulic • On June 28, 2013, lightening ignited the Yadnell Hill Fire. By day two the fire had exploded across 13 square miles. Over 127 homes were destroyed and 19 firefighters lost their lives when they became trapped in a mountain ridge. (Kadlubowski 2013)
Colorado wildfires 2013 • Many homes were lost. (Richardson, 2013)
A year like 2013 may be what is considered at the new norm. • More people are moving into fire prone regions. • There has been significant development over the past two decades in places that were not traditionally inhabited by people, such as woodlands, grasslands and forested areas.
Are wildfires getting worse? • Over the last 10 years fire activity has been higher than normal. • By oversuppressing forests for decades, people have disrupted the natural fire cycles and let to much wildfire fuel build up. • More and people now live near forests than in the past, raising both the stakes and chances and fires. • Between 2001-2012, people have started more than six times more wildfires than lightening did. • Backyard fires, arson, cigarettes, campfires, and catalytic converters are also often the blame.
What causes wildfires? • Fire is a natural occurrence usually sparked by lightening. • Most wildland fires are caused by humans when flames escape from burning debris/carelessness. • Cigarettes and abandoned campfires are two well known causes of wildland fires. • Catalytic converters on automobiles can heat up dry vegetation beneath an idling car, igniting a wildfire. Trains, tractors and other industrial equipment has also been known to shoot a spark into dry grass or debris causing a few to ignite. • Many scientist believe that global warming is the more dangerous culprit. • http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/translating-uncle-sam/stories/are-wildfires-getting-worse
Richardson, H, (2013). Photos: Colorado wildfires 2013 [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://blogs.denverpost.com/captured/2013/06/12/photos-colorado-wildfires-2013/ Moreno, I, Paulson, S., K, Tsai, C. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/12/colorado-wildfire-forces-_0_n_3427555.html#slide=2560801 Rice, Doyle, USA Today: Tragic wildfire season had surprisingly few fires (2013). Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/weather/2013/11/23/wildfire-season/3674707/ Mclendon, Russell, MNN: Are wildfires getting worse? (2013). Retrieved from http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/translating-uncle-sam/stories/are-wildfires-getting-worse Reinhardt, Elizabeth, (2013). USFS: Engaging a climate ready agency 2013. Retrieved from http://www.fs.fed.us/climatechange/updates/September%202013%20Climate%20Update.pdf