Fire Watch

Well, 2007 has finally squeezed past 2005 as the second most destructive wild-fire year in the U.S. for the decade in recorded history, leaving 2006 in the lead. That means the three most destructive years — as measured by acres burned — are the last three. Fires follow drought, follow forest ill-health, follow lightning (mostly) and human causes. Drought increasing — unless you live in northeast India / Pakstan or across the throat of Africa where your choice is flood.

8,284,271 Acres Burned


60 Minutes took on the fires in the west the Sunday [excuse the ads]

The lead is that these are “mega fires, ten times as big as the fires we’re used to seeing.” The fires in 2006 I mention above, and link to, are “the most severe in recorded history.” (I assume he means in the US.)

Tom Bodner, the Chief of Fire Operatons for the Feds, says of the Ketchum Idaho fire this summer, that 10 – 15 years ago a fire of its size and intensity would have been extremely rare. “They’re commonplace these days.” Ten years ago a 100,000 acre fire was rare. Today a 200,000 acre fire is a regular day…. In 2007 there have been two fires over 500,000 acres.

Seven of the ten busiest fire seasons since 1967 have happened in the past 8 years.

Tree ring analysis shows that recent decades have been the hottest in one thousand years. In addition there have been more fires at higher elevation. Spring has been coming earlier every year, the snow melting and water running off. The fire season in the last fifteen years has increased by over two months, in the western US.

The megafires burn so hot, and are so big it is possible that some will never grow back. Up to half the forests in the west may become other types of ecosystems.

Says Bodner: You won’t find anyone on the fire lines in the American West who doesn’t believe in climate change. We’ve been seeing changes in temperature and humidity and drought that is different than anything we’ve seen in our life times.

Update II Fires sweeping through Malibu Sunday. Doubled in size in an hour. Santa Ana winds + the dryest summer on record. Another fire to the north in the Angeles mountains.

CBS on Malibu

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  1. Pingback: All In One Boat » Blog Archive » Fires Hit California

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