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Worrisome U.S. Wildfire Risks Leading into Summer of 2018

The trend of increasing large wildfires for the U.S. West due to climate change is clear as clear can be. And as we enter 2018, fire officials are concerned that we might experience another damaging summer and fall similar to 2017.

(Analysis of the present state of U.S. fire season.)

According to forecasters from the National Interagency Fire Center:

…warmer and drier-than-normal conditions have put large portions of the Western United States at above-average risk for significant wildfires between now and September.

This year’s wildfire season could rival last year’s, which was one of the most devastating on record, said Vicki Christiansen, interim chief of the U.S. Forest Service.

With drought conditions and warmer than normal temperatures prevailing across the U.S. West at present, a number of large wildfires are breaking out. The most significant now run through Colorado, New Mexico and California. In addition, four large fires are burning over Alaska where much warmer than normal temperatures have also settled in.

Last year was one of the most destructive fire seasons on record. 53 lives were lost, 12,300 homes were destroyed, and more than ten million acres burned. The situation this year, though not quite as intense as early 2017, has sparked concern. Presently 1.75 million acres have already burned from more than 24,000 fires — which makes the start of 2018 fire season the third worst of the past ten years.

(Severe western drought and above average temperatures are contributing to increased fire potential during June of 2018. Warmer temperatures and worsening droughts are also related to human-caused climate change. As a result, unless human caused warming is abated, fires will continue to grow larger and more intense. Image source: The National Weather Service.)

Climate change is identified as the primary factor increasing wildfire risk across the United States by the Union of Concerned Scientists. According to that scientific body, the incidence of large fires covering more than 1,000 acres has increased from 140 over the U.S. West during the 1980s to more than 250 after 2000. The same study found that fire season for the West had increased from five months to seven months, that temperatures were rising, and that mountain snows were melting earlier.

In the future, unless fossil fuel burning is rapidly reduced, the area of land burned in the U.S. West could increase by up to 650 percent. So wildfires are a substantial hazard related to climate change. And the present more severe season cannot be excluded from a trend that has been amplified by that change.

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38 Comments

  1. wili

     /  June 6, 2018

    Thanks for covering these worrisome developments!

    In the tradition of COBob:

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  2. wili

     /  June 6, 2018

    I live in a silver mine and I call it beggars’ tomb
    I got me a violin and I beg you call the tune!

    Like

    Reply
  3. bobinspain

     /  June 6, 2018

    It’s looking bad here, too Robert. Thanks for the update. Crazy stormy weather all over Europe due to split jet stream, blocked Omega pattern, best explained by the experts, but I’ve never seen so many storms over central Europe. Lightning patterns all lit up like a Christmas tree.
    https://www.aer.com/science-research/climate-weather/arctic-oscillation/

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    • Thanks for the link to this expert analysis, Bob. Worth noting that their forecast was spot-on and that the ridge pattern has shifted to Central Siberia with a big trough dipping down through Eastern Europe and parts of Central Europe. Watch out for heavy rain.

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      • bobinspain

         /  June 7, 2018

        You’re welcome, Robert. We’re hoping for some rain here, but these days I think you have to be careful what you wish for!

        Like

        Reply
    • Related:

      Like

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  4. bobinspain

     /  June 6, 2018

    So, simplified, the picture fits with a slackening jet stream, correct? A wetter, stormier future.

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    • Bingo, the pattern has shifted with a deep trough over Central-Eastern Europe and a very steep ridge to the east in Central Siberia. This pattern will tend to bring a switch to cooler and much more stormy weather with strong thunderstorms and very high hourly rainfall rates possible.

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  5. bobinspain

     /  June 6, 2018

    Observer bias? Storms across central Europe:

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
  6. bobinspain

     /  June 6, 2018

    The jet stream doesn’t look right to me just now. Correct me if I’m wrong:
    https://earth.nullschool.net/#current/wind/isobaric/250hPa/orthographic=-30.40,75.94,378

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    • Scientists might be able to model and predict a sinusoidal jet stream, but I don’t see how they can model and predict anything as fractured and chaotic as that. Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

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      • bobinspain

         /  June 7, 2018

        Agreed, mlp. I’m a novice trying to catch up with the science, but I get the feeling that it isn’t quite right, as unscientific as that sounds.

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    • That looks like a slow-down with some “traffic jams” in-between.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    • Very strong Omega block type signature. Watch out for extreme weather on both sides plus a strong warm storm in the Kara/Laptev seas.

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      Reply
      • bobinspain

         /  June 7, 2018

        Nice analogy, Sir Charles. It all fills me with morbid curiosity with regards to our prospects for the rest of the summer. It’s not looking pretty.

        Like

        Reply
  7. bobinspain

     /  June 7, 2018
    Reply
  8. Bird populations crashing not only in industrialized areas. Eagle and vulture populations down by 80% in Botswana wilderness.

    Scientists stunned by decline of birds during epic Southern African roadtrip
    Birds of prey fast disappearing from one of Africa’s last great wilderness areas.
    June 6, 2018. U. Cape Town. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180606095341.htm
    Summary:
    A two year project repeating a famous bird survey by driving over 20,000 km in a 4×4 across Botswana has confirmed researchers’ fears: many birds of prey are fast disappearing from one of Africa’s last great wilderness areas. Reported sightings of iconic species of eagle and vulture declined by as much as 80% compared with the previous survey, while some migrant species recorded last time have vanished, according to the study.
    Share:

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  9. Paul in WI

     /  June 7, 2018

    Here’s the latest about May temperatures in the U.S.:

    You Just Lived through the Hottest May on Record in the Contiguous U.S.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/mashable.com/2018/06/06/may-2018-warmest-on-record-united-states.amp

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  10. Any questions?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  11. Ronald

     /  June 7, 2018

    How about Australia? It seems to be exceptionally dry, that is to say, I have been following this for several months now and from March through May the monthly precipitation is way below long-term average:

    Any recent news about forest fires there?

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  12. Suzanne

     /  June 7, 2018

    Couldn’t sleep last night, so went Youtube cruisin’ and came across this 13 minute video that got my attention. Especially the chart at around the 6 minute mark:

    “Shale Gas” The technological Gamble that should NOT have been taken”

    ****If you are NOT involved in a GOTV project…please join one today. We are in the fight for our lives in 2018″.*****

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
  13. Oklahoma Earthquakes and major Earthquakes..but they keep fracking Study: Ancient faults may play part in quake activity
    By Ryan Miller
    CNHI Oklahoma
    Possible ancient deep faults in Oklahoma may have been reactivated by wastewater injection, contributing to increased seismic activity in parts of the state, according to a recent study.
    Magnetic measurements of the possible deep faults were made during low-altitude airplane flights conducted by U.S. Geological Survey and Oklahoma Geological Survey, according to USGS.
    The state has been a hot bed for earthquakes in recent years, with thousands occurring, and experts saying wastewater injection activity, also known as induced seismicity, is to blame. According to USGS, few of the quake sequences have occurred on mapped faults, making “seismic hazards” difficult to estimate.
    OGS and USGS’s study utilized the “airborne magnetic data to image rocks where the earthquakes are occurring miles beneath the surface,” according to USGS. “The magnetic field maps reveal boundaries or contacts between different rock types, some of which are linear, similar to faults.”
    Some of those contacts are aligned with sequences of quakes, according to USGS.
    “This suggests that some of them represent ancient faults that have been reactivated due to wastewater injection, which generates, or ‘induces’ earthquakes,” the study said.
    The data also revealed a dominant, so-called “grain” direction to the magnetic contacts in the deep rocks where seismicity was recorded.
    The grain is thought to have been formed hundreds of millions of years ago and could be composed in part by faults that are oriented favorably to move in tandem to natural background stresses
    in the earth, according to USGS, which said that alignment of the fractures could contribute to the recent high amount of earthquakes resulting from wastewater injection.
    “We are hoping the results will be used to guide more detailed studies at local scales to assess potential earthquake hazards,” said USGS scientist Anji Shah who was the lead author for the study.
    The survey was conducted in areas of Alfalfa, Beckham, Comanche, Greer, Harmon, Kiowa, Jackson, Lincoln, Logan, Major, Noble, Pawnee, Payne, Pottawatomie, Stephens, Tillman, Woods and Woodward counties.
    USGS and OGS’s study also found numerous of the possible deep faults discovered by the data are different from ones on earlier fault maps, and officials said the difference most likely is due to previous maps reflecting “relatively young” faults in shallow rocks, whereas the recent magnetic data findings are of the deeper and older rocks.
    Additionally, differences in fault directions between the rocks types were attributed to the different histories of ancient tectonic and magmatic events that shaped the rocks, according to USGS.
    “There is nothing like a new data set to excite geoscientists looking for answers to some of the mysteries of induced seismicity in Oklahoma,” said OGS Director Dr. Jeremy Boak. “We look forward to discussing these results among ourselves and with the interested technical community. We also hope to bring these data to bear on addressing the persistent seismic activity and sharing our interpretations with Oklahomans and other stakeholders regarding this challenging issue.”
    For more information, visit USGS.gov.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  14. Abel Adamski

     /  June 7, 2018

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jun/06/flooding-from-high-tides-has-doubled-in-the-us-in-just-30-years
    The frequency of coastal flooding from high tides has doubled in the US in just 30 years, with communities near shorelines warned that the next two years are set to be punctuated by particularly severe inundations, as ocean levels continue to rise amid serious global climate change concerns.

    Last year there was an average of six flooding days per area across 98 coastal areas monitored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) – an all-time record. More than a quarter of these locations tied or broke their records for high tide flood days, the federal agency states in a new report.

    Known as “sunny day flooding”, these events swamp streets and homes with water simply from the incoming tide, without the aid of a storm. Noaa said that in 2017 areas across the US north-east and Gulf of Mexico were worst hit, with Boston, Massachusetts, and Atlantic City, New Jersey, both experiencing 22 days of flooding, while Galveston, in Texas, was soaked on 18 different days.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  15. Abel Adamski

     /  June 7, 2018
    Reply
    • Article completely ignores the synergy between wind, solar and emerging battery storage. A mixed distributed grid doesn’t need much in the way of storage capacity — perhaps 20 percent even with 100 percent renewable penetration. Battery storage generates much higher value when mated to wind and solar and rapidly replaces. In other words, the first twenty paragraphs of this article are basically a myth.

      The fact that hydrogen is billed as the savior for solar is also a distortion. It’s certainly possible that hydrogen can work in a mixed renewable system. However, in order for that to happen the price of electrolysis needs to fall substantially. We’re not there yet. But we are there when it comes to batteries. And, in fact, the hydrogen economy has tended to lag due to a slower growth curve and due to lack of investment in renewable hydrogen. In addition, due to the comparatively high cost of electrolysis, 90 percent of current hydrogen comes from reformed natural gas which is a very high carbon process.

      I’d be very wary of those billing hydrogen as renewable energy’s savior. RE doesn’t need saving. It is crushing coal and even gas presently, in distributed forms is highly competitive, capacity factors are rising, and more battery storage capacity (which is superior for grid balancing when compared to coal and gas) is coming fast. In 2030, the world will look a lot different. And hydrogen may play a part in long term storage. But it needs to move rapidly if its going to catch up with wind/solar/batteries.

      Like

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  1. Worrisome U.S. Wildfire Risks Leading into Summer of 2018 — robertscribbler « Antinuclear

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