Monday, June 11, 2012

Today's intersection: SAD and the High Park Fire

@Kirk Siegler covers the environment for KUNC, Community Radio for Northern Colorado. They're headquartered in Greeley; their main transmitter is on Buckhorn Mountain where it is still being threatened by the #HighParkFire. Yesterday, he flew over the wildfire just west of Ft. Collins and took this photo:

From Garden Guides:
Aspen stands are good firebreaks, often dropping crown fires in conifer stands to the ground when they reach aspens and even sometimes extinguishing the fire because of the small amount of flammable accumulation. They allow more ground water recharge than do conifer forests and they also play a significant role in protecting against soil erosion. They have been used in restoration of riparian habitats.
From a piece in the Durango Herald:
The findings of William Anderegg, who is pursuing a doctorate in biology, were published this month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Sudden aspen decline, or SAD, as the die-off was labeled, began with the severe drought of 2002-04 and continued until recently when he did his research, Anderegg said. “The die-off was documented across the West – Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Colorado,” Anderegg said. “But Colorado had the highest percentage of aspen affected. Severe drought coupled wih high temperatures, as would be expected with climate change, is the tip of an iceberg,” he said.
Colorado's 2011-12 ski season was the deadliest in that state's history; it was also the crappiest in recent memory, a result of decoupling weather systems caused by anthropogenic climate change.

Officials stated yesterday that the fuels for the High Park Fire are three weeks drier than those that sustained the Hayman Fire occurring at this time ten years ago; even green grass is burning.

The Greeley Gazette:
Many farmers in the area are facing the real possibility they could lose their crops this year due to a lack of available water from the South Platte following a lower than average snowpack last year. Some fields remain dry and farmers are having difficulty getting their crops to sprout to due to the water shortage. While the farmers have been trying to get relief for years, their efforts have often been stymied by the large cities such as Boulder and Denver who often have high paid lawyers at taxpayer expense who have vigorously fought any attempt to even study the issue.
About two million people live along the Front Range; 5,116,796 people live in Colorado. Livestock numbers are in the tens of millions.

Connect the fucking dots.

The Forest Service was effectively crippled under the Bush-era Healthy Forests Initiative according to Jesse B. Davis writing from the Lewis and Clark School of Law:
The Comment concludes that the Healthy Forests Initiative is an irresponsible and ill-considered exercise in land management, arising from political and economic considerations and unsupported by sound scientific and legal principles.
This morning's news brings the fire to near 40,000 acres.

Update, 1751 MDT. Colorado's Senator Mark Udall rushes to shut the smoldering barn door:
The 2012 Farm Bill currently sets aside $100 million for beetle-mitigation efforts. The bipartisan amendment Udall offered today with Senators Bennet, John Thune (R-SD) and Max Baucus (D-Mont) would double this to $200 million in order to meet the U.S. Forest Service goal to treat more than double the acres for bark beetle than in previous years.
Gaia, be merciful.


D.E. Bishop said...

Well, you know Larry, it's just the normal climate flucuations that have always occurred. People have absolutely nothing to do with it. Why look at all the scientists - well, the crackpot few anyway - they say there is no human causation to global warming.

(One of the problems with written, rather than spoken language, is that exaggerated facial grimaces and ultra-sarcastic tone of voice are not options. Damn.

larry kurtz said...

Scary shit, DE. The fire season will walk right up the Rocky Mountain chain testing resources beyond our capacity to respond.

It's freaky.

larry kurtz said...

Yikes! Much more from WaPo Weather.

larry kurtz said...

Big Blowup of 1910 and current wildland fire policy from a climate scientist.