Some other useful maps to have when a wildfire is beginning to break out is a wind current map, vegetations map, and topographic map. Since fire is strongly influenced by oxygen, knowing is the how much the wind is going to influence a fire. A vegetation map will basically show the amount and type of vegetation in the area for the fire to feed on. A topographic map can help with seeing if there are any natural barriers to the fire in nature. Like canyons or rivers, large mountains with little vegetation so the fire will have no fuel or heat due to the high elevation to keep it going.
Map example: Soil Burn Severity map
Most people don’t think about the aftermath of a wildfire and how it damages the area’s soil. A soil burn severity map (example seen below). This would come in handy to see where the most damage and where a potential debris flow could happen due to the lack of organic material keeping the soil in place. This would help me if I lived in the area by making sure to avoid the areas with highly burned soil on rainy days to avoid possible debris flows.
A hazard that can show up in the aftermath of a wildfire is Debris flows. When the organic material was consumed by the fire, the soil turns into ash and char. When the next wet weather comes to the area, the soil is flooded with liquid. With no organic material to hold the soil in place on the mountainous wilderness area, the slopes quickly erode and cause a debris flow. This happened in the area after the Chetco Bar fire was mainly contained and the wet season began in Oregon.
An Article that I found interesting
Example of how a fire influences the weather around it
From the website: https://www.hcn.org/articles/the-art-and-science-of-forecasting-wildfire
The event I picked for my second case study was the Chetco Bar wildfire. This fire burned in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness located in the Southwest part of Oregon. The first sign of fire was reported on July 12th, 2017 and firefighters believe it was started by a lightning strike. The fire started in the scar of the 2002 Biscuit Fire (that only burned 45 acres) but grew because of Brookings effect. Brooking effect is specific to the Southern coast of Oregon. It uses the effect of katabatic wind were wind rushes caused by the change in temperatures due to elevation change moves down along an elevation/sloped form and picks up speeded. Being one of the main pillars (oxygen, fuel, and heat) in having a fire, the wind provides the fire with plenty of oxygen to the fire. Combine the sweltering summer climate that caused dry vegetation to fuel the fire and the heat to create the lightning, the fire spread rapidly. Covering over 300 acres after a week of burning. By August 2017, the fire spread to 22,042 acres and mandatory evacuations were issued to the residence in the area. The fire was reported to be 100% contained on November 2th, 2017 with a total of 191,125 acres burned.
I found how lightning is created quite interesting. As the area’s ground warmed up due to the heat, the air heated up and rose, taking vaporized water with it to form clouds and friction between the water droplets or ice builds up enough electron charge to where it needs to go somewhere. At the same time, charge partial are accolading on the earth’s surface below the thunderclouds. When the attraction between the charged electrons and particles between the thunderclouds and the ground becomes too great, it overcomes airs resistance to electric flow and moves quickly to each other to balance out. So fast that it is traveling a 3rd of the speed light, causing the flash of light.
The article did provide insight of the importance of the water cycle and water quality and the various factors that impact it. Giving interesting detail on how water and climate issues can be impacted on places with heavily increased populations and several industrial and energy plants. And flooding leads to water contamination. Just as droughts can increase the levels of water pollutants. Climate change does increase the risk of heavy rains and severe droughts. Climate changes can intensify the cycle the more evaporation from the soil increase the risk of drought. After any disaster laws and policies and organizations like Compendium of Water Quality Regulatory Frameworks: Which Water for Which Use heavily take into account the importance of the challenges of climate changes and water challenges. After reading the article it did bring me into the mindset of just how thankful certain countries like the United States is to have non contaminated water. I remember when my family and I was in Korea the water was not safe to drink so we had to drink from bottled water and a water cooler. It really made me think about while in America you can just go to the sink and drink the water and be just fine and not think anything of it. So the article made me think more about just how important water is for the climate and how essential it is for people as well.
Since Interior Alaska has temperature inversions during the winter, I wanted to learn more about the weather phenomenon that affects people in the local area.
Weather inversions are caused by warm air rising and cold air staying low and becoming trapped in valleys which act like bowls for cold air.
Weather inversions can affect residents are the bottom of the valley as well; Freezing rain is caused by temperature inversions as the snow melts while it is falling through the warm layer before falling on the frozen ground in the valley which remains below freezing.
In addition to being a cause for freezing rain, inversions also cause pollution to stay trapped in the valleys causing the frequent air quality advisories seen on the noaa website for Fairbanks during the winter months. Inversions prevent pollution from properly mixing out with air higher in the atmosphere, leading to the pollutants becoming trapped.
I thought the article made it really easy to understand temperature inversions as it is a very simple concept they did a good job explaining.
Next time you are grumpy about the -40F and freezing fog, blame it on Temperature Inversions.
The website that I found is the EPA’s website on climate change. Unfortunately, if you’ve been following the news, you may have noticed that a certain spray-tanned administration is currently in power. This means that the EPA made certain changes to its website just over a year ago, including removing the entire section that has to do with the dangers of climate change. Fortunately, they had to leave an archived version of the website available to the public, which I linked above.
1: I learned that Texas has had (and is the only state to have) around 50 “weather and climate events” that caused over a billion dollars in damage between 1980 and 2012 – I think that’s crazy.
2: According to a PDF on the website titled “What Climate Change Means for Alaska”, the Arctic Ocean had 50% of its usual summer ice coverage. I had no idea that sea ice loss was so extensive.
3: The section of the website called “climate change indicator” says that in Bermuda, the Canary Islands, and Hawaii, dissolved CO2 in the ocean has increased and ocean pH levels have decreased, becoming more acidic.
The water cycle touches every part of our world. When this cycle is disturbed the impacts are costly and not easily reversed. This resource I found breaks down the country into regions where you can learn the impacts that directly effect that region and the projected changes.
-Events will increase/intensify. Heavy precipitation events have increased within the nation and are projected to increase all over the states.
-The timing of peak river levels has changed.
-Soil moisture plays a major role in the water cycle and is projected to decline.
I included two sites to cover all the information needed for this post. The first site is a website from the University of Waikato released in 2009 called Science Learning Hub that gives good general answers to questions regarding weather, climate, and water cycle. The second site is a good website from BBC released in 2014 about how hazardous tropical storms (hurricanes) form and the driving forces that cause them.
The difference between weather and climate. Weather refers to a short period of conditions in the atmosphere like rain for a few hours or days. Climate indicates how the atmosphere regulates over a long period of time like months, years, decades, and longer.
How water cycles are driven from the energy of the sun, air movement, pressure, and amount of water in the given area. Evaporation cause water to rise in the atmosphere as a gas and then eventually became a liquid again (called condensation) that causes rain and snow.
The website goes on to talk about how evaporation and precipitation happen on an atomic level.
Three bits of information I found in the BBC website:
Tropical storms happen along the equator due to the amount of concentrated heat and Coriolis force. An effect that if a mass moving in a rotating system experiences a force acting perpendicular to the direction of motion and to the axis of rotation. On the earth, the effect usually causes objects to move to the northern or southern hemisphere.
Tropical storms have different titles around the world. These are Hurricanes, Cyclones, and Typhoons.
The formation of a tropical storm can only happen in certain conditions. Temperature, wind, and amount of water to evaporate all play a role in the creation of a tropical storm.
This week I chose an article from the EPA which identifies climate change indicators. This article talks about how the rising temperature for the globe is associated with the changes we see in weather patterns (heat waves, large storms, etc…)
8 of the top 10 warmest years have occurred since 1998. Within the U.S, temperatures in the North, the West and Alaska have seen the most dramatic increases. This really resonates with me because we have had a noticeably warm winter in Fairbanks this year.
Although flooding has become more common and frequent, droughts vary by region. From 2000-2015 (20-70%) of the U.S. land area has experienced conditions that were uncharacteristically dry.
Tropical storm activity has seen a rapid increase in the past 20 years. This is due to sea surface temperature. It’s not necessary the number of storms that are created but the intensity of the storms.
My web page I list describes the geological hazards near anchorage, alaska. The ’64 quake was devastating. Most of the indirect and immediate damage was caused from landslides. The studies on the web page are antiquated. They have not done any risk studies since 1979. These studies lack any information regarding land slides from rainfall, liquification, thermokarst or snow avalanches. The Turnagain arm is the main source for grocery transportation to Girdwood, Seward and the Kenai Peninsula. With climate change there are different dynamics with landslides that were not implemented with the mapping of hazards. This information is important for emergency planning, building zoning and insurance information.
It is difficult to grasp the power of earthquakes. The recent 7.9 that struck just south of Kodiak caused problems all the way to Florida. Hydrographs in Ft. Lauderdale recorded a drop of 1.5” in the groundwater. In Blue Springs they recorded a 2” rise in the water table. These level changes resolved within one hour. These changes are called hydrogeologic responses to earthquakes. Springs and streams are susceptible to change. Dry become flowing and visa verse. Quality of well water can degrade as well. Do you remember watching Jurassic Park? There is a scene where T-Rex is walking nearby and there is oscillation in a cup of water. This is similar to how an earthquake can affect water tables far away. More info can be found at https://groundwaterwatch.usgs.gov/.
There is a good source of information regarding volcanoes in Alaska. The Alaskan Volcanic observatory center has links to live cameras to various volcanoes around the state. There you can see what volcanoes are actively being watched for activity. I learned more about the Mount Redoubt last erupted less than 10 years ago. The drift river was filled with mud flows, or lahars, that reached the drift river oil and gas terminal. Recently the terminal was rebuilt and new pipelines are currently being redirected there from oil and gas platforms in the Cook Inlet. This facility is a part of the backbone of the economy.