Wildfires complicate eclipse planning efforts


 
07 August 2017

published by http://www.mailtribune.com


USA - As the solar eclipse approaches on Aug. 21, emergency personnel are doing everything from preparing for overloaded cellphone systems to battling wildfires that could threaten residents and tourists.

Fire and weather officials briefed Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., on those efforts as the senator visited Medford on Monday.

With wildfires already burning across Oregon, National Weather Service Meteorologist Ryan Sandler said thunderstorms are in the forecast. Lightning can strike outside areas of rainfall, he noted.

“We have existing fires and we may see more fires ignite with the thunderstorms this week,” Sandler said.

He said it’s too early for the National Weather Service to offer a forecast for Aug. 21.

While the Rogue Valley will see a partial eclipse, people in the path of totality further north in Oregon will see the moon completely block out the sun’s face. The path for viewing a total eclipse stretches in an arc from Oregon to South Carolina in the United States.

People are expected to flood the Willamette Valley and the Madras area in Central Oregon to see the total eclipse.

If clouds drift over the Willamette Valley as the day of the eclipse approaches, Sandler said crowds will scramble to reach areas with clear skies — further worsening traffic.

The influx of eclipse fans will likely strain cellphone systems. Public agencies are readying their land lines and radios in case cellphones are out of commission.

Emergency personnel said people were planning to climb 10,479-foot tall Mount Jefferson, but Willamette National Forest Service announced Monday the area is closing because of a wildfire, and it is expected to remain closed through the eclipse. The mountain in the path of totality will offer a phenomenal site as the moon’s shadow races across the surface of the Earth. Unprepared climbers who wind up in trouble could trigger search and rescue operations. Extra rangers will be on duty to help out the public.

Although the Rogue Valley is outside the total eclipse zone, emergency personnel said they expect people to scale 9,495-foot-tall Mount McLoughlin northeast of Medford, or Medford’s smaller hill, Roxy Ann Peak, which reaches 3,576 feet.

Crater Lake National Park officials said they don’t expect a massive influx of eclipse viewers because the park is outside the path of totality. However, visitors traveling to and from the eclipse could take a detour to visit iconic Crater Lake.

The Spruce Lake fire burning in the national park could complicate or change those visitors’ plans. West Rim Drive has been closed and Rim Village and the park’s headquarters have been put on notice they may be asked to evacuate.

With so much focus on wildfires as the eclipse looms, Wyden said he is battling in Congress to win consistent, adequate funding for wildfire prevention efforts, like forest thinning.

Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest Deputy Fire Staff Rob Budge said the initial work to cut, pile and burn wildfire fuels is costly. But conducting prescribed burning to maintain those thinned areas is far cheaper.

If federal agencies don’t get enough funding to maintain the thinned areas, the vegetation and trees regrow after seven to 10 years — putting conditions back to square one, he said.

Jim Whittington, public affairs officer with the Medford District Bureau of Land Management, said federal agencies are also dealing with an outdated system of hiring firefighters only on a seasonal basis. Fire seasons have grown longer and firefighting now requires more expertise and training.

If firefighters were hired for year-round work, they could battle wildfires and also conduct fuel thinning in the off-season. Experienced wildfire incident managers are retiring, and younger workers don’t have opportunities for permanent jobs and career advancement, Whittington warned.

“Every year we hemorrhage future leaders,” he said.

An international team of climate researchers from the US, South Korea and the UK has developed a new wildfire and drought prediction model for southwestern North America. Extending far beyond the current seasonal forecast, this study published in the journal Scientific Reports could benefit the economies with a variety of applications in agriculture, water management and forestry.

Over the past 15 years, California and neighboring regions have experienced heightened conditions and an increase in numbers with considerable impacts on human livelihoods, agriculture, and terrestrial ecosystems. This new research shows that in addition to a discernible contribution from natural forcings and human-induced global warming, the large-scale difference between Atlantic and Pacific ocean temperatures plays a fundamental role in causing droughts, and enhancing wildfire risks.

"Our results document that a combination of processes is at work. Through an ensemble modeling approach, we were able to show that without anthropogenic effects, the droughts in the southwestern United States would have been less severe," says co-author Axel Timmermann, Director of the newly founded IBS Center for Climate Physics, within the Institute for Basics Science (IBS), and Distinguished Professor at Pusan National University in South Korea. "By prescribing the effects of man-made climate change and observed global ocean temperatures, our model can reproduce the observed shifts in weather patterns and wildfire occurrences."



Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-atlanticpacific-ocean-temperature-difference-fuels.html#jCp
An international team of climate researchers from the US, South Korea and the UK has developed a new wildfire and drought prediction model for southwestern North America. Extending far beyond the current seasonal forecast, this study published in the journal Scientific Reports could benefit the economies with a variety of applications in agriculture, water management and forestry.
 

Over the past 15 years, California and neighboring regions have experienced heightened conditions and an increase in numbers with considerable impacts on human livelihoods, agriculture, and terrestrial ecosystems. This new research shows that in addition to a discernible contribution from natural forcings and human-induced global warming, the large-scale difference between Atlantic and Pacific ocean temperatures plays a fundamental role in causing droughts, and enhancing wildfire risks.

"Our results document that a combination of processes is at work. Through an ensemble modeling approach, we were able to show that without anthropogenic effects, the droughts in the southwestern United States would have been less severe," says co-author Axel Timmermann, Director of the newly founded IBS Center for Climate Physics, within the Institute for Basics Science (IBS), and Distinguished Professor at Pusan National University in South Korea. "By prescribing the effects of man-made climate change and observed global ocean temperatures, our model can reproduce the observed shifts in weather patterns and wildfire occurrences."



Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-07-atlanticpacific-ocean-temperature-difference-fuels.html#jCp