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View Diary: The Siberian Arctic Was a Summer Resort Spot the Last Time CO2 Was Today's 400ppm (123 comments)

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  •  This actually is false (0+ / 0-)

    There is no evidence of fire sizes increasing, and there is no evidence of a relationship between fire behavior and climate. Fire responds to short term variation in the weather first and foremost. A good example of this is the 1910 fire season. This occurred in the midst of a very wet cool period, but there was a very dry spell in the middle of summer corresponding to the blowup that year.

    Good reading to be had soon:

    Fire sizes in the 19th century were vastly greater than in the 20th, due to fire suppression efforts (we've been putting out every damn fire that we can put out, whereas before white settlement, the Native Americans burned like crazy because that made gathering food way easier) and deforestation (not as much stuff to burn).

    Minnesota has seen much larger wildfires, including one that burned 1 million acres in the Red Lake area in the north central part of the state in the 1930s and a 350,000 acre fire around Hinckley south of Duluth in the 1890s.

    Small varmints, if you will.

    by aztecraingod on Sat May 11, 2013 at 04:19:14 PM PDT

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    •  There certainly is evidence of fire size increases (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      radical simplicity

      in the southwestern U.S.

      Southwestern states have had the largest fires in recorded history in the past decade.

      look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

      by FishOutofWater on Sat May 11, 2013 at 08:37:20 PM PDT

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      •  There has not been a wildfire over 1mill acres (0+ / 0-)

        in North America since 1950, and that was in BC. The last one in the US was in 1910. There were dozens on record in the 19th century. This is primarily a result of deforestation (less available area to burn), not of climate change. There is not a discernable relationship between climate variables and fire size, fire occurrence, or fire behavior (a number of those articles state without second thought that fires are getting "more intense". Fireline intensity is a specific term with respect to fire behavior, and the biggest contributor to this is wind.)

        Fire is first and foremost driven by weather, any relationships that have been examined between fire behavior and climate (PDO, Southern Oscillation, Palmer Drought, etc... NONE of them correlate). This has often been an assumed relationship, but it is quite stunning that nobody before the paper I linked above actually went through the work of examining the correlations.

        One of the frustrating things about GCMs is that they are attuned almost entirely to make predictions about temperature, but the most important variable with respect to fire behavior is moisture (both precip and humidity play important roles). It is interesting, because if you look at a number of the GCM predictions for the northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest, the implication is that they would become both warmer and wetter, whereas the southwest will continue to dry out. Granted, these are predictions based off of the models for which they were not designed, but it is interesting nonetheless. What it does point out is the need for a climate change model that focuses on precip and humidity, or at least shares focus with temp. My understanding is that this is in the works, and will help the discussion to a great extent.

        Small varmints, if you will.

        by aztecraingod on Sun May 12, 2013 at 06:40:20 AM PDT

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        •  Models & data show the SW US is drying & warming (0+ / 0-)

          That's the most critical problem affecting fire size. Land use and fire suppression has changed since 1900. It doesn't make much sense to compare today's fires to ones that no one tried to put out 200 years ago.

          look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening.

          by FishOutofWater on Tue May 14, 2013 at 05:53:44 PM PDT

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