From all-time heat records to millions of charred acres of forest, summer of 2017 is no joke

From all-time heat records to millions of charred acres of forest, summer of 2017 is no joke

SOURCE: Mashable DATE: Aug 8, 2017 SNIP: On July 7, Mike Flannigan, a scientist at the University of Alberta, stared at satellite imagery on his computer as one wildfire after another ignited across British Columbia during the course of the unusually hot day. In total, 140 wildfires began on that one day, setting what may be a new record, Flannigan said in an interview. In Canada, Flannigan said, the area burned each year has doubled since the 1970s, despite improvements in fire management. “This is due to human caused climate change,” he said. “I can’t be more direct than that.” It’s not just British Columbia that’s suffering this summer either. Across the globe, it’s as if summer weather is on steroids, with searing heat waves, deadly flash floods, and massive fires affecting many areas. Scientists say that we’d better get used to it, thanks in part to global warming. Studies have tied the increasing number of large fires in parts of Canada and the U.S. to global warming. In fact, the level of fire activity across the boreal forests, which stretch from Alaska to Canada and around the top of the world to Scandinavia and Russia, is unprecedented in the past 10,000 years, according to a study published in 2013. Wildfires haven’t just been confined to the far north this year either. In the U.S., 5.9 million acres have burned in fires so far in 2017, mainly across the West, which is 1.9 million acres above the past decade’s annual average amount. As of Monday morning, firefighters were battling 11 large blazes in California alone, with additional large fires...
‘Flash drought’ could devastate half the High Plains wheat harvest

‘Flash drought’ could devastate half the High Plains wheat harvest

SOURCE: Grist DATE: Aug 1, 2017 SNIP: It’s peak hurricane season, but the nation’s worst weather disaster right now is raging on the High Plains. An intense drought has quickly gripped much of the Dakotas and parts of Montana this summer, catching farmers and ranchers off-guard. The multi-agency U.S. Drought Monitor recently upgraded the drought to “exceptional,” its highest severity level, matching the intensity of the California drought at its peak. The Associated Press says the dry conditions are “laying waste to crops and searing pasture and hay land” in America’s new wheat belt, with some longtime farmers and ranchers calling it the worst of their lifetimes. Unfortunately, this kind of came-out-of-nowhere drought could become a lot less rare in the future. Farmers in the region are also worried because the Trump administration has targeted a key federal crop insurance program for hefty cuts. The governors of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana have all declared states of emergency to speed aid and open some normally protected areas for livestock grazing. The frequency of these rapid-onset droughts is expected to increase as the planet warms. A recent study focusing on China found that flash droughts more than doubled in frequency there between 1979 and...
States of Emergency in California and British Columbia from Raging Wildfires

States of Emergency in California and British Columbia from Raging Wildfires

SOURCE: Wunderground DATE: July 20, 2017 SNIP: One of the largest evacuations in British Columbia history is underway, thanks to 155 wildfires—including fifteen major wildfires that threaten populated areas—that have forced more than 45,000 people from their homes. According to CBC News, the number of evacuations is approaching the province’s record set in 2003, when 50,000 people were forced out of their homes by a wildfire near Kelowna. The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre reported on July 19 that the nation was operating at the highest level of wildfire response, Level 5, and that international assistance would likely be needed, since “national resource levels are insufficient to meet occurring and anticipated wildland fire activity.” A state of emergency was declared for the province on July 7, and has been extended through the end of...
These NASA Images Show Siberia Burning Up

These NASA Images Show Siberia Burning Up

SOURCE: Climate Central DATE: June 28, 2017 SNIP: Siberian wildfire season is off and running with multiple blazes searing the boreal forest and tundra. It’s the latest example of the vast shifts happening to the forests that cover Siberia and the rest of the northern tier of the world as climate change alters the landscape. Those forests are burning at a rate unheard of in at least 10,000 years due largely to rising temperatures. They contain vast reserves of carbon stored in trees and soil and when they burn, they send that carbon into the atmosphere. That creates a dangerous cycle of more severe wildfires and ever rising temperatures. Image: A satellite image captured on June 23, 2017 shows the extent of wildfires burning across Siberia. Credit: NASA Earth...