The state is increasing funding and preventative measures, but it may not be enough. A year after one of the worst wildfire seasons in California’s history, the state is taking more preventive measures to reduce wildfire risks. But experts worry it still doesn’t have the firefighting and land management resources to adequately fight worsening blazes. Photo: Noah Berger/AP
As of mid-June, nearly three-quarters of the US’s West has been experiencing “severe,” “extreme,” or “exceptional” drought conditions. In addition to the states above, it also includes northern states like North Dakota and Montana.
Overall, climate change is playing a role. But there are smaller factors at play that are tied to climate change as well. Including…
- Not enough rain. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) said the Southwest’s 2020 monsoon season (read: ‘nonsoon’) was “the hottest and driest summer/monsoon season on record.” And the decrease in rainfall is having an impact on today’s drought (think: not enough water for crops, lakes, or reservoirs). And for the little rain that has fallen, it could dry up faster because of…
- Warmer temps. The NOAA dubbed 2020 the second-hottest year on record. And in late June, a record-breaking heat wave hit the Pacific Northwest, with the temperature reaching up to 112 degrees Fahrenheit in places like Portland, OR. (Psst…if you’re dealing with hot weather, here are some tips to stay safe.) Hotter, drier weather creates a thirsty environment, which speeds up evaporation. Rising temps are also causing snowpacks to melt faster, and they’re reportedly producing less runoff – a vital water resource. All of which means there’s less water available for communities and ecosystems.
Experts are also worried that the current dry and hot conditions will have a ripple effect, which brings us to wildfires. Last year’s West Coast wildfire season was the worst ever. Fires in California killed 31 people, burned more than 4 million acres, and destroyed thousands of buildings and structures. And this year, states like Arizona have seen an early start to their wildfire season. But the effects of the drought stretch even further.
U.S. West dealing with record heat, Senate Democrats agree to $3.5 trillion healthcare and antipoverty plan, and this is the ‘best place’ to live in America.
Five stories to know for May 17: Israel-Gaza fighting continues, Los Angeles blaze, train derails in Iowa, CDC mask guidelines, and coronavirus in India.
1. Israel bombed what it said were underground tunnels used by Hamas and Palestinian militants fired rocket barrages at Israeli cities as fighting spilled into a second week.
2. A wildfire in Los Angeles, California, gained momentum on Sunday and about 1,000 residents were put under evacuation orders. Two suspects were detained as arson investigators and police looked into the cause of the blaze.
3. A Union Pacific train hauling hazardous materials derailed and then caught fire in the city of Sibley, Iowa, authorities said.
4. New U.S. guidance allowing people to go without masks in most places provided one more topic of disagreement among Americans who have found little common ground throughout the pandemic.
5. India reported a further decline in new coronavirus cases on Monday but daily deaths remained above 4,000, and experts said the data was unreliable due to a lack of testing in rural areas where the virus is spreading fast.
It’s no secret that warming temperatures are transforming landscapes in extreme northern regions. In Alaska, where wildfires have burned through many old-growth spruce forests in the past half decade, deciduous trees—such as aspen and birch—are starting to take over. But little is known about the impact these changes will have on how much carbon the forests release and store.
To find out, researchers trudged through the Alaskan taiga, seeking out wildfire sites where spruce once dominated. They mined these sites for information on carbon and nitrogen stores and forest turnover over time. What they found surprised them: In the long run, their estimates suggest that intensifying heat and more wildfires may lead to more carbon sequestration in Alaskan forests, they report today in Science. It’s impossible to know for sure that the flames will subside, but it’s a bit of good news as the fires burn out the old growth and bring in the new.
Read the research: https://scim.ag/3soUc4e
Raging fires throughout the U.S. and Australia over the past year have put vulnerable species at risk. But not all blazes are devastating—in fact, fire can promote biodiversity. In grasslands, fires prevent trees and roots from taking hold. This allows grazing animals the space and vegetation they need to thrive. As the pattern of wildfires changes, a new review in Science outlines effective ways to let natural fires burn, while preventing out-of-control blazes. Watch to learn how a few of these techniques have been applied around the world.
Read the research: https://scim.ag/3pIRjv7
Wildfires are a fact of life in California but extent and devastation in the American West feel dramatic this year: More than 5 million areas of uncontrolled fires lead to incredible footage on the news & reports of orange skies in Oakland or San Francisco. The 2020 fire season has broken almost every record in terms of frequency and ferocity. We analyzed several factors like climate change, housing development and fire suppression & management to see what’s behind the largest and most destructive wildfires in the state’s history and what can be done to solve the worsening problem?
More than a dozen wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties have suffered losses related to recent wildfires in California. WSJ talks to the owner of Castello di Amorosa, whose warehouse of 120,000 bottles of wine was burned to the ground.
Photo: Samuel Corum/AFP
On Sept. 15, 2020, Arctic sea ice reached its annual minimum extent — the second-lowest on record. This summer, temperatures soared in the Siberian Arctic, and intense fires burned through peatland. The Arctic region is warming three times faster than the rest of the planet.
The Almeda fire left a path of destruction as it tore through the Rogue Valley in southern Oregon. About 24 hours after it started, an estimated 2,350 homes had been left in ashes. We used satellite images, videos and social media posts to track what happened.