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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Fire Season

Fire Season

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Friday, July 13, 2018/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, photography, space science, sustainability, environment, climate change

                                        Spring Creek Fire, Western Colorado 7-6-2018 (credit: NASA)

Fire season has began early in Colorado and elsewhere in Western US this year. It is only early July and more than a dozen fires are currently burning across that state alone. Other states including Utah, Montana, New Mexico, and California are battling blazes of their own. The 'season' used to be more typical of the fall months.

A huge fire, ignited by illegal campfire sparks last month, has now burned over 107,000 acres. The region of southern Colorado was imaged by NASA's Landsat-8, the remote-sensing satellite, as it recently passed over the Rockies. The space-based environmental monitor captured an infrared scan using its multi-spectrum camera. The IR image shows burned areas (red) as separated from unburned range and forest (green). The Spring Creek fire is approaching to possibly be second largest in the State's history. It may not be fully contained until the end of the month due to steep terrain, the tinder dry vegetation, and lack of rain.

The US Drought Monitor, which tracks environmental conditions for every state, shows Colorado's current situation. Several parts of the Rocky Mountain state are experiencing "exceptional drought" conditions while 75% of the entire state range from "abnormally dry" to "extreme drought".

 

  Colorado Drought Map, 7-10-2018 (credit: NOAA Environmental Prediction Center & US Drought Monitor)

News reporters have been kept busy following all the fire events that just keep burning throughout the West.

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It is worth remembering that the Colorado River system receives its water supply as Rocky Mountain snows. The river's water supports agriculture, cities, and recreational sports including the multi-billion dollar ski industry. All climate models predict that droughts and other severe weather events will be amplified by increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases. The Columbine State is on the 'front line' of the fire season this summer.

WHB

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