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Science Says: Hotter weather turbocharges US West wildfires
AP study 2018. Lots of great factoids.

The five hottest Aprils to Septembers out West produced years that on average burned more than 13,500 square miles (35,000 square kilometers), according to data at the National Interagency Fire Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration .

That’s triple the average for the five coldest Aprils to Septembers.

The Western summer so far is more than 3 degrees Fahrenheit (1.7 degrees Celsius) warmer than the 20th century average. California in July logged its hottest month in 124 years of record-keeping.

The five years with the most acres burned since 1983 averaged 63.4 degrees from April to September. That’s 1.2 degrees warmer than average and 2.4 degrees hotter than the years with the least acres burned, AP’s data analysis shows.

In California, the five years with the most acres burned (not including this year) average 2.1 degrees warmer than the five years with the least acres burned.

A degree or two may seem like not much, but it is crucial for fuel. The hotter it is, the more water evaporates from plants. When fuel dries faster, fires spread more and burn more intensely, experts said.

For every 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit that the air warms, it needs 15 percent more rain to make up for the drying of the fuel, Flannigan said.

Fuel moisture levels in California and Oregon are flirting with record dry levels, NOAA western regional climate center director Tim Brown said.

And low humidity is “the key driver of wildfire spread,” according to University of Colorado fire scientist Jennifer Balch who says the Western U.S. soon will start to see wildfires of 1 million acres (1,562 square miles).

Veteran Colorado hotshot firefighter Mike Sugaski used to consider 10,000-acre (16-square-mile) fires big, now he fights ones 10 times that or more.

“You kind of keep saying, ‘How can they get much worse?’ But they do,” Sugaski said.

The number of U.S. wildfires hasn’t changed much over the last few decades, but the area consumed has soared.

“The year 2000 seemed to be some kind of turning point,” said Randy Eardley, the fire center’s chief spokesman.

From 1983 to 1999, the United States didn’t reach 10,000 square miles burned annually. Since then, 10 years have had more than 10,000 square miles burned, including 2017, 2015 and 2006 when more than 15,000 square miles burned.

Some people who reject mainstream climate science point to statistics that seem to show far more acres burned in the 1930s and 1940s. But Eardley said statistics before 1983 are not reliable because fires “may be double-counted, tripled-counted or more.”

Nationally, more than 8,900 square miles (23,050 kilometers) have burned this year, about 28 percent more than the 10-year average as of mid-August. California is having one of its worst years.

Scientists generally avoid blaming global warming for specific extreme events without extensive analysis, but scientists have done those extensive examinations on wildfire.

John Abatzgolou of the University of Idaho looked at forest fires and dry conditions in the Western United States from 1979 to 2015 and compared that to computer simulations of what would be expected with no human-caused climate change. He concluded that global warming had a role in an extra 16,200 square miles (42,000 square kilometers) of forests burning since 1984.
wildfires  detection  attribution  Climate_Science_study  California  factoid  info_graphic_good 
13 hours ago by huntercutting
This Is How People Can Actually Afford to Live in the Bay Area - VICE
The Bay Area of Northern California is well on its way to becoming a bewitching hellhole in which it’s actually impossible to eke out a living.
Archive  berkeley  california  sf 
16 hours ago by dvand5
Ojai Meadows Preserve - OVLC : OVLC
The Ojai Meadows Preserve is doing what it’s meant to do, connect people to the natural world. This restoration project was made possible by citizens and businesses, who helped transform the property into a gorgeous wetland environment.
Summer  2018  August  VenturaCounty  Ojai  USWest  California  BWRT  SouthCoastRegion  vacation 
yesterday by ahasteve

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