Free Newsletters - Space News - Defense Alert - Environment Report - Energy Monitor
. Earth Science News .




FIRE STORM
Climate Models Project Increase in U.S. Wildfire Risk
by Kathryn Hansen for Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt MD (SPX) Dec 11, 2012


The Whitewater-Baldy Complex wildfire in Gila National Forest, New Mexico, as it burned on June 6th, 2012. Scientists calculate that high fire years like 2012 are likely occur two to four times per decade by mid-century, instead of once per decade under current climate conditions. Credit: Kari Greer/USFS Gila National Forest. For a larger version of this image please go here.

Scientists using NASA satellite data and climate models have projected drier conditions likely will cause increased fire activity across the United States in coming decades. Other findings about U.S. wildfires, including their amount of carbon emissions and how the length and strength of fire seasons are expected to change under future climate conditions, were also presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

Doug Morton of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., presented the new analysis of future U.S. fire activity. The analysis was based on current fire trends and predicted greenhouse gas emissions.

"Climate models project an increase in fire risk across the U.S. by 2050, based on a trend toward drier conditions that favor fire activity and an increase in the frequency of extreme events," Morton said.

The analysis by Morton and colleagues used climate projections, prepared for the Fifth Assessment Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, to examine how dryness, and therefore fire activity, is expected to change.

The researchers calculated results for low and high greenhouse gas emissions scenarios. In both cases, results suggest more fire seasons that are longer and stronger across all regions of the U.S. in the next 30-50 years. Specifically, high fire years like 2012 would likely occur two to four times per decade by mid-century, instead of once per decade under current climate conditions.

Through August of this year, the U.S. burned area topped 2.5 million hectares (6.17 million acres), according to a fire emissions database that incorporates burned area estimates produced from observations by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instruments on NASA's Aqua and Terra satellites.

That is short of the record 3.2 million hectares (7.90 million acres) burned in 2011, but exceeds the area burned during 12 of the 15 years since record keeping began in 1997. This and other satellite records, along with more refined climate and emissions models, are allowing scientists to tease out new information about fire trends.

"Fire is an inherently global phenomenon, and the only practical way to track large-scale patterns and changes in fire activity is with satellites," says Louis Giglio of the University of Maryland at College Park and Goddard.

As the U.S. land area burned by fire each year has increased significantly in the past 25 years, so too have the emissions. Carbon dioxide emissions from wildfires in the western U.S. have more than doubled since the 1980s, according to Chris Williams of Clark University in Worcester, Mass.

The satellite-based view allowed Williams and his colleagues to quantify how much carbon has been released from fires in the U.S. West. The team used data on fire extent and severity derived from Landsat satellites to calculate how much biomass is burned and killed, and how quickly the associated carbon was released to the atmosphere.

The team found carbon emissions from fires have grown from an average of 8 teragrams (8.8 million tons) per year from 1984 to 1995 to an average of 20 teragrams (22 million tons) per year from 1996 to 2008, increasing 2.4 times in the latter period.

"With the climate change forecast for the region, this trend likely will continue as the western U.S. gets warmer and drier on average," Williams said. "If this comes to pass, we can anticipate increased fire severity and an even greater area burned annually, causing a further rise in the release of carbon dioxide."

Researchers expect a drier and more wildfire-prone U.S. in future decades. Previous research confirmed the connection between the measure of an environment's potential evaporation, or dryness, and fire activity.

From a fire and emissions management perspective, wildfires are not the entire U.S. fire story, according to research by Hsiao-Wen Lin of the University of California at Irvine.

Satellite data show agricultural and prescribed fires are a significant factor and account for 70 percent of the total number of active fires in the continental U.S. Agricultural fires have increased 30 percent in the last decade.

In contrast with wildfires, agricultural and prescribed fires are less affected by climate, especially drought, during the fire season.

"That means there is greater potential to manage fire emissions, even in a future, drier climate with more wildfires. We need to use cost-benefit analysis to assess whether reductions in agricultural fire emissions - which would benefit public health - would significantly impact crop yields or other ecosystem services," Lin said.

.


Related Links
Earth at NASA
Forest and Wild Fires - News, Science and Technology






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





FIRE STORM
Storm causes fresh forest fire in Tenerife
Los Realejos, Spain (AFP) Oct 30, 2012
A storm caused a forest fire on the Spanish island of Tenerife that threatened a village, prompting residents to evacuate from their homes, an official said Wednesday. Strong winds blew down an electric pylon that caused a fire which spread over 3,000 square metres (32,000 square feet), said a local council official who asked not to be named. The fire struck in Los Realejos on the north ... read more


FIRE STORM
Thirteen killed in S.Africa bridge collapse

Fire, flood or giant calabash... pick your apocalypse

N.Z. probe finds numerous flaws in killer quake building

UN seeks $65 mn aid as Philippines typhoon toll tops 600

FIRE STORM
Malaysia orders Australian miner to ship out waste

$99 Google laptops for schools sold out

Microsoft to sell Surface at retail stores

Google sells off more Motorola assets

FIRE STORM
Mercury in coastal fog linked to upwelling of deep ocean water

French move boosts shark sanctuaries

Big nations block curbs on tuna overfishing

Probiotics help fish grow up faster and healthier

FIRE STORM
Clearest evidence yet of polar ice losses

Adventurer to recreate Shackleton's Antarctic exploits

Adventurer to recreate Shackleton's Antarctic exploits

Ice Sheet Loss At Both Poles Increasing, Study Finds

FIRE STORM
Typhoon reduces Philippine farmers to beggars

Japan firm recalls China tea on pesticide fears

EU ag interests disagree on supply chain

Environmental hangover from Indonesia's palm oil thirst

FIRE STORM
Scientists pinpoint great-earthquake hot spots

At least 13 dead after flood in Congo capital

Philippines braces for return of killer typhoon

Tsunami hits Japan after 7.3-magnitude quake

FIRE STORM
Mali crisis deepens as PM quits under pressure from ex-junta

US general in Nigeria after warning over African Islamists

Mali PM resigns after being arrested by troops

South Sudan soldiers kill 14 in volatile state: officials

FIRE STORM
Africa's Homo sapiens were the first techies

Skeletons in cave reveal Mediterranean secrets

World's tallest woman dies in China: authorities

Native Americans and Northern Europeans more closely related than previously thought




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement