Replanting well underway in burned areas of Santiam State Forest. Oregon timber owners work feverishly to salvage burned wood. They’re Among the World’s Oldest Living Things. The Climate Crisis Is Killing Them. Sequoia Crest, Calif. — Until a few years ago, about the only thing that killed an old-growth giant sequoia was old age.
Not only are they the biggest of the world’s trees, by volume — the General Sherman Tree, considered the largest, is 36 feet in diameter at its base and 275 feet tall — they are among the oldest. At least one fallen giant sequoia was estimated to have been more than 3,200 years old. They last so long that, historically, only one or two of every thousand old-growth trees dies annually, according to Nate Stephenson, a research ecologist for the United States Geological Survey. Fire always was a frequent visitor to sequoia groves, but rarely a threat. Mature sequoias are virtually fireproof because the bark can be several feet thick. Until now. Dr. Wildfire in Santa Cruz mountains. Nearly Half of the U.S. Is in Drought. It May Get Worse. Nearly half of the continental United States is gripped by drought, government forecasters said Thursday, and conditions are expected to worsen this winter across much of the Southwest and South.
Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center, a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said a lack of late-summer rain in the Southwest had expanded “extreme and exceptional” dry conditions from West Texas into Colorado and Utah, “with significant drought also prevailing westward through Nevada, Northern California and the Pacific Northwest.” Much of the Western half of the country is now experiencing drought conditions and parts of the Ohio Valley and the Northeast are as well, Mr. Halpert said during a teleconference announcing NOAA’s weather outlook for this winter. This is the most widespread drought in the continental United States since 2013, he said, covering more than 45 percent of the Lower 48 states. “The winter forecast doesn’t bode well,” Mr. The World’s Largest Tropical Wetland Has Become an Inferno. This year, roughly a quarter of the vast Pantanal wetland in Brazil, one of the most biodiverse places on Earth, has burned in wildfires worsened by climate change.
What happens to a rich and unique biome when so much is destroyed? Climate change brings Santa Ana-like winds, fires to Oregon. Nearly nine months pregnant, Elisha Goodrick was cooking chicken piccata Monday evening when she noticed something eerie — weather like she had never experienced in western Oregon.
It was strange enough to see ash falling like snow outside her kitchen window as a wildfire galloped through mountainsides somewhere above. Two Enormous California Fires Rage Unchecked in State’s Northern Counties. Wildfires continued to rage across California on Tuesday, forcing tens of thousands of residents to evacuate their homes in several counties and threatening restaurants and wineries in the state’s northern wine country.
As two massive blazes consumed large expanses of the state throughout the morning, California was rapidly advancing toward a record four million acres burned in a single year. The Glass Fire, which began as three separate fires on Sunday that merged, continued expanding across Napa County on Tuesday. Oregon wildfire smoke brings record-breaking poor air quality, DEQ says. PORTLAND, Ore. — According to a recent report from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon has seen record poor air quality in cities across the state.
RELATED| Portland's air quality is really bad, but it's not the worst in the state DEQ and Lane Regional Air Protection Agency compared recent and historical Air Quality Index information for Portland, Eugene, Bend, Medford and Klamath Falls. They found that all five cities exceeded previous daily records for poor air quality during wildfire season, according to the DEQ. All previous records were set in September 2017. Other than Medford, no city has previously experienced a hazardous air quality day since DEQ began monitoring, officials said. How an Oregon Wildfire Became One of the Most Destructive. Wildfires May Pose Drinking Water Safety Issues. Two months after a wildfire burned through Paradise, Calif., in 2018, Kevin Phillips, then a manager for town’s irrigation district, walked from one destroyed home to another.
Burned out cars, the occasional chimney and the melted skeletons of washers and dryers were the only recognizable shapes. “You started to actually be shocked when you saw a standing structure,” he said. Mr. Record Wildfires on the West Coast Are Capping a Disastrous Decade. With more than a month of fire weather ahead for large parts of the West Coast, the 2020 fire season has already taken a disastrous toll.
Combined, over five million acres have burned in California, Oregon and Washington so far. Thousands of buildings have been destroyed by some of the largest fires ever recorded. More than two dozen people have died. Millions up and down the coast have spent weeks living under thick clouds of smoke and ash. “We’ve broken almost every record there is to break,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles, referring to his home state, where catastrophic fires have become an almost-yearly occurrence. Data from two NASA satellites that can detect heat shows fire activity in California, Oregon and Washington in 2020 has already eclipsed even the worst previous year. 2020 is the most active fire year on record for the West Coast Note: Cumulative sum of fire detections across California, Oregon and Washington.
Wildfires in West have gotten bigger, more frequent and longer since the 1980s. Dramatic images of out-of-control wildfires in western North American forests have appeared on our television and computer screens with increasing regularity in recent decades, while costs of fire suppression have soared.
In 2015, federal spending on suppression exceeded US$2 billion, just 15 years after first exceeding $1 billion. Something has been changing our fire seasons. There are competing explanations for why wildfires have been increasing, particularly in our forests. I’ve been studying the science of climate and wildfires for more than 15 years and the take-home message from our research is that, while our management of the landscape can influence wildfire in many different ways, it is a warming climate that is drying out western U.S. forests and leading to more, larger wildfires and a longer wildfire season. In Oregon, a New Climate Menace: Fires Raging Where They Don’t Usually Burn. Wildfires Are Worsening. The Way We Manage Them Isn’t Keeping Pace.