Tag Archives: climate

AP PHOTOS: Wildfires develop worldwide as local weather sizzles

[ad_1]

The summer season season of wildfires is rising extra intense and damaging because the local weather sizzles.

July was the planet’s hottest month in 142 years of file maintaining, in accordance with U.S. climate officers. A number of U.S. states — together with California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington — additionally noticed their hottest ever July.

In August, wildfires continued to rage throughout the western United States and Canada, southern Europe, northern Africa, Russia, Israel and elsewhere.

In Greece, which is struggling its most extreme warmth wave in many years, a giant wildfire this week threatened villages exterior Athens. 1000’s of individuals have been evacuated from houses in a area of the French Riviera threatened by blazing fires. Current wildfires have killed not less than 75 folks in Algeria and 16 in Turkey, native officers stated.

Drought situations and excessive temperatures in northern California have given rise to the Dixie Hearth, which has been ablaze for a month and burned greater than 1,000 sq. miles. Some 1,600 folks in Lake County have been not too long ago ordered to flee approaching flames, and youngsters have been rushed out of an elementary faculty as a close-by subject burned.

Final week a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Local weather Change referred to as Earth’s quickly warming temperatures a “ code purple for humanity.” The report calls local weather change clearly human-caused and “a longtime reality,” and co-author and local weather scientist Linda Mearns informed the AP that the disrupted international local weather leaves “nowhere to run, nowhere to cover.”

[ad_2]

Supply hyperlink

Local weather-fueled wildfires take toll on tropical Pacific isles

[ad_1]

WAIMEA, Hawaii — A metallic roof sits atop the burned stays of a homestead on the once-lush slopes of Hawaii’s Mauna Kea — a dormant volcano and the state’s tallest peak — charred vehicles and bikes strewn about as wind-whipped sand and ash blast the scorched panorama.

Generations of Kumu Micah Kamohoalii’s household have lived on these lands reserved for Native Hawaiians, and his cousin owns this home destroyed by the state’s largest-ever wildfire.

“I’ve by no means seen a hearth this huge,” Kamohoalii stated. “Waimea has had fires, lots of them earlier than and a few perhaps just a few hundred acres, however not this dimension.”

The hearth has burned greater than 70 sq. miles (181 sq. kilometers) within the two weeks it has been going. But it surely wasn’t the primary time this space has burned, and will not be the final. Like many islands within the Pacific, Hawaii’s dry seasons are getting extra excessive with local weather change.

“Everybody is aware of Waimea to be the pasturelands and to be all of the inexperienced rolling hills. And so after I was younger, all of this was at all times inexperienced,” Kamohoalii stated. “Within the final 10 to 15 years, it has been actually, actually dry.”

Enormous wildfires spotlight the risks of local weather change-related warmth and drought for a lot of communities all through the U.S. West and different hotspots around the globe. However specialists say comparatively small fires on usually moist, tropical islands within the Pacific are additionally on the rise, making a cycle of ecological injury that impacts very important and restricted sources for tens of millions of residents.

From Micronesia to Hawaii, wildfires have been a rising downside for many years. With scarce funding to stop and suppress these fires, island communities have struggled to deal with the issue.

“On tropical islands, fires have a singular set of impacts,” stated Clay Trauernicht, an ecosystems and wildfire researcher on the College of Hawaii. “At first, fires had been very uncommon previous to human arrival on any Pacific island. The vegetation, the native ecosystems, actually advanced within the absence of frequent fires. And so whenever you do get these fires, they have an inclination to form of wreak havoc.”

But it surely’s not simply burnt land that’s affected. Fires on islands hurt environments from the highest of mountains to beneath the ocean’s floor.

“As soon as a hearth happens, what you’re doing is eradicating vegetation,” Trauernicht stated. “And we regularly get heavy rainfall occasions. All of that uncovered soil will get carried downstream and now we have these direct impacts of abrasion, sedimentation on our marine ecosystems. So it actually hammers our coral reefs as properly.”

Pacific island reefs help native meals manufacturing, create limitations to giant storm surges and are a vital a part of tourism that retains many islands working.

The moist season on tropical islands additionally causes fire-adapted grasses to develop tall and thick, constructing gasoline for the following summer season’s wildfires.

“Guinea grass grows six inches a day in optimum situations and a six-foot tall patch of grass can throw 20-foot flame lengths,” stated Michael Walker, Hawaii’s state fireplace safety forester. “So what now we have listed below are actually fast-moving, very popular, very harmful fires.”

Walker stated such non-native grasses which have proliferated in Hawaii are tailored to fireplace, however native species and shrubs should not.

“Whereas (these wildfires) might not evaluate to the scale and length of what of us have within the western United States, we burn a good portion of our lands yearly due to these grass fires, they usually’re altering our pure ecosystems and changing forests to grass,” he stated.

The newest wildfire on Hawaii’s Huge Island burned about 1% of the state’s complete land, and different islands within the Pacific resembling Palau, Saipan and Guam burn much more — as much as 10% in extreme fireplace years.

On common, Guam has practically 700 wildfires a 12 months, Palau about 175 and Saipan about 20, in accordance with knowledge from 2018.

Guam, like many different locations, has lengthy used fireplace as a software. Farmers generally use it to clear fields and hunters have been identified to burn areas whereas poaching.

The U.S. territory’s forestry chief Christine Camacho Fejeran stated fires on the island are largely brought on by arson. “So all of Guam’s wildfires are human-caused points, whether or not it’s an intentional or an escaped yard fireplace or one other (trigger),” she stated.

On common, Fejeran stated, 6,000 to 7,000 acres (2,430 to 2,830 hectares) of the island burns annually, amounting to about 5% of its land.

Whereas no properties have been misplaced to latest wildfires on Guam, Fejeran believes that pattern will come to an finish — until extra is completed to fight the fires.

The island has made some modifications in fireplace laws, administration, schooling and enforcement. Arson has develop into a rechargeable offense, however Fejeran says enforcement stays an impediment within the tight-knit group.

Again in Hawaii, final week’s blaze destroyed three properties, however the fireplace threatened many extra.

Mikiala Model, who has lived for twenty years on a 50-acre homestead, watched as flames got here inside just a few hundred yards (meters) of her home.

As the hearth grew nearer, she noticed firefighters, neighbors and the Nationwide Guard racing into her rural neighborhood to struggle it. She needed to evacuate her beloved dwelling twice in lower than 24 hours.

“After all it was scary,” she stated. “However I had religion that the sturdy, the courageous and the gifted, and together with nature and Akua, which is our identify for the common spirit, would take care.”

Demonstrating the tenacity of many Native Hawaiians in her farming and ranching group, Model stated, “I solely fear about what I’ve management over.”

Down the mountain in Waikoloa Village, a group of about 7,000, Linda Hunt was additionally compelled to evacuate. She works at a horse secure and scrambled to avoid wasting the animals as flames whipped nearer.

“We solely have one and a half roads to get out — you might have the principle highway after which you might have the emergency entry,” Hunt stated of a slender dust highway. “Everyone was making an attempt to evacuate, there was quite a lot of confusion.”

The hearth was finally put out simply wanting the densely populated neighborhood, however had flames reached the properties, it might have been disastrous on the parched panorama.

“When you might have excessive winds like we get right here, it is tough irrespective of how huge your fireplace break is, it may blow proper via,” Hunt stated.

Whereas fires have gotten tougher to struggle due to dry and sizzling situations related to local weather change, specialists say the Pacific islands nonetheless can assist forestall these blazes from inflicting ecological injury and property losses.

“Hearth presents a reasonably fascinating element of form of all these local weather change impacts that we’re coping with within the sense that they’re manageable,” stated Trauernicht, the College of Hawaii wildfire skilled.

Along with schooling and arson prevention, he stated, land use — resembling grazing practices and reforestation that scale back risky grasses — might assist.

“It is inside our management, probably, to cut back the impacts that we’re seeing with fires,” Trauernicht stated. “Each by way of forest loss in addition to the impacts on coral reefs.”

———

Related Press author Victoria Milko reported from Jakarta.

———

On Twitter comply with Caleb Jones: @CalebAP and Victoria Milko: @TheVMilko

———

The Related Press Well being and Science Division receives help from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Division of Science Training. The AP is solely accountable for all content material.

[ad_2]

Supply hyperlink

Recreation in danger as Lake Powell dips to historic low

[ad_1]

PAGE, Ariz. — A thick, white band of newly uncovered rock face stretches excessive above boaters’ heads at Lake Powell, creating a pointy distinction in opposition to the well-known crimson desert terrain as their vessels weave via tight canyons that have been as soon as underwater.

It is a stark reminder of how far the water degree has fallen on the large reservoir on the Utah-Arizona border. Simply final 12 months, it was greater than 50 toes (15 meters) greater. Now, the extent on the well-liked vacation spot for houseboat holidays is at a historic low amid a local weather change-fueled megadrought engulfing the U.S. West.

At Lake Powell, tents are tucked alongside shorelines that haven’t seen water for years. Shiny-colored jet-skis fly throughout the water, passing kayakers, water-skiers and fishermen below a blistering desert solar. Closed boat ramps have pressured some houseboats off the lake, leaving vacationers and companies scrambling. One ramp is up to now above the water, folks have to hold kayaks and stand-up paddleboards down a steep cliff face to succeed in the floor.

Houseboat-rental corporations have needed to cancel their bookings via August — considered one of their hottest months — after the Nationwide Park Service, which manages the lake, barred folks from launching the vessels in mid-July.

On the well-liked most important launch level on Wahweap Bay, the underside of the concrete ramp has been prolonged with metal pipes so boats can nonetheless get on the lake, however that resolution will solely final one other week or two, the park service mentioned.

“It’s actually unhappy that they are permitting such a stupendous, stunning place to crumble,” mentioned Bob Reed, who runs touring firm Up Lake Adventures.

Lake Powell is the second-largest reservoir in the US, proper behind Nevada’s Lake Mead, which additionally shops water from the Colorado River. Each are shrinking sooner than anticipated, a dire concern for a seven-state area that depends on the river to provide water to 40 million folks and a $5 billion-a-year agricultural trade.

They’re amongst a number of giant our bodies of water within the U.S. West which have hit report lows this summer season, together with the Nice Salt Lake in Utah. Lake Oroville in California is anticipated to succeed in a historic low by late August, with the state’s greater than 1,500 reservoirs 50% decrease than they need to be this time of 12 months.

In 1983, Lake Powell’s water exceeded its most degree of three,700 toes (1,127 meters) and almost overran Glen Canyon Dam. The lake is dealing with a brand new set of challenges having reached a report low of three,553 toes (1,082 meters) final week.

Authorities officers needed to start releasing water from sources upstream final month to maintain the lake’s degree from dropping so low it could have threatened hydropower equipped by the dam.

It comes as much less snowpack flows into the Colorado River and its tributaries, and sizzling temperatures parch soil and trigger extra river water to evaporate because it streams via the drought-plagued American West. Research have linked the area’s greater than 20-year megadrought to human-caused local weather change.

Fluctuating water ranges have lengthy been a staple of Lake Powell, however Nationwide Park Service officers say the same old forecasts weren’t capable of predict simply how dangerous 2021 could be.

Finger-pointing has began as boaters, native officers and the park service debate what to do now.

“The park service has didn’t plan,” space home-owner Invoice Schneider mentioned. “If it will get to the purpose the place we’re so low you can’t put boats within the water and you’ll’t give you an answer to place boats within the water, why would you come to Lake Powell?”

The 53-year-old purchased a retirement dwelling in close by Web page, Arizona, after finishing 25 years of army service in February. He wished to return to Wahweap Bay the place he spent most of his childhood and teenage years fishing, waterskiing and dealing odd jobs across the lake. However after watching how the lake has been managed, Schneider says he’s beginning to remorse it.

Officers say they’ve options for households and boaters who typically plan years forward to discover the glassy waters that stretch into slender crimson rock canyons and the tourism trade that depends upon them.

As soon as the severity of the drought grew to become clear, federal officers started searching for choices to permit boat entry at low water ranges, mentioned William Shott, superintendent of the Glen Canyon Nationwide Recreation Space, the place Lake Powell is positioned. The park service found an previous ramp on Wahweap Bay that shall be constructed out to assist houseboats and smaller motorboats.

Shott says he hopes the $three million ramp will be accomplished by Labor Day weekend. The undertaking is funded by the park service and lake concessionaire Aramark.

The company and officers from the city of Web page, which depends on lake tourism, plan to open one other previous asphalt ramp to supply entry for smaller boats whereas the bigger one is up to date.

Tom Materna, who has been visiting Lake Powell for 20 years, launched his household’s 65-foot (20-meter) timeshare houseboat simply hours earlier than the principle ramp closed however needed to lower their trip brief as water ranges dropped in mid-July.

“They mentioned no extra launching out of the Wahweap ramp, so we have been glad we made it out,” the Los Angeles resident mentioned. “Then the subsequent day I feel or two days later, they known as us up and instructed us that every one launch and retrieve houseboats needed to be off the lake.”

Web page Mayor Invoice Diak mentioned dropping boat entry to the lake might have devastating monetary penalties for the town of seven,500.

He mentioned native leaders have been “sluggish” to handle dropping water ranges and restricted boat entry however that he is been working nearer with park officers and concessionaires on options.

“We might have been just a little bit extra proactive on planning … however we’re shifting in the appropriate route now working collectively,” Diak mentioned.

He careworn that the impression of local weather change must be addressed, noting that the U.S. West may very well be dealing with way more urgent points than lake entry if the drought continues for an additional 20 years.

One silver lining, Shott says, is the park service can construct boat ramps which are usable even throughout report drought years. Over $eight million in different low-water initiatives are also underway.

“Even when we did have a crystal ball and we noticed that these lake ranges have been going to get this low, we couldn’t have prevented it anyhow,” Shott mentioned. “With that mentioned, we’re profiting from the low water now.”

Troy Sherman, co-owner of a enterprise renting environmentally pleasant anchors to houseboats, mentioned the marina housing Seashore Baggage Anchors shut down shortly after his firm launched in spring 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. It relaunched this 12 months however needed to cancel 95% of its bookings in July when ramps closed to houseboats.

“Till there’s actually entry to a ramp once more to place houseboats in, my enterprise is sort of in a holding sample,” Sherman mentioned. “However we’ll completely persevere; it’s what you must do.”

———

Eppolito is a corps member for the Related Press/Report for America Statehouse Information Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit nationwide service program that locations journalists in native newsrooms to report on undercovered points.

[ad_2]

Supply hyperlink

Further virus safeguards deliberate for overturned ship removing

[ad_1]

Salvage employees coming to the Georgia coast to chop aside and take away a cargo ship that overturned a yr in the past will probably be sequestered at a close-by resort to guard them from the coronavirus

Tuesday marked a yr because the South Korean freighter Golden Ray capsized off St. Simons Island quickly after leaving port on Sept. 8, 2019. Specialists decided the ship was too badly broken to be floated out intact, in order that they plan to slice it into eight large items for removing by barge.

The salvage workforce nonetheless hopes to start the slicing in early October, stated Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Himes, a spokesman for the command.

Himes confirmed the command has booked the resort Epworth by the Sea to maintain about 100 salvage employees housed in a “bubble” for a four-month interval. The resort will probably be closed to most of the people Sept. 22 by way of Jan. 21. Its web site says it has lodging for 1,000 in a single day company. The Brunswick Information first reported the plan, citing a letter by Epworth CEO Joel Willis.

“As soon as we begin slicing, the ship will get extra weak and there’s a whole lot of various factors that might influence the schedule,” Himes stated. “The one we expect we are able to have the very best management over is COVID-19.”

First, all arriving crew members will probably be housed at a resort for a 14-day quarantine interval to make sure they are not infectious earlier than being transferred to the resort, Himes stated. Even after that, they are going to be subjected to day by day temperature checks and different security protocols.

Himes famous the resort reserving, like the remainder of the salvage operation, is being paid for by the ship’s proprietor and its insurer.

A towering, floating crane will straddle the shipwreck and noticed it into items utilizing large anchor chains. It’s going to depart the Georgia coast in eight chunks weighing as much as 4,100 tons (3,720 metric tonnes) apiece. The vehicles inside will both be hauled off in a bundle with the massive ship items or fall into the water for retrieval later.

The complete removing ought to take about eight weeks, Himes stated, barring any additional interruptions.

Harmful climate might pressure extra delays. Hurricane season will not finish till Dec. 1, and storms to this point have been spawning within the Atlantic Ocean at a record-setting tempo. On Monday, Tropical Storm Rene grew to become the Atlantic’s earliest 17th named storm on file.

“We’re nonetheless on observe to start in early October, however in fact that could be a fluid timeline,” Himes stated. “We’re monitoring the climate every single day.”

[ad_2]

Supply hyperlink

Aussie PM defends response to fires; weather brings respite

[ad_1]

SYDNEY —
Cooling temperatures and calmer winds brought some relief Sunday to Australian communities raked by wildfires, but the heat stayed on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to accept responsibility for the crisis and take action.

“There has been a lot of blame being thrown around,” Morrison said at a news conference. “And now is the time to focus on the response that is being made. … Blame doesn’t help anybody at this time and over-analysis of these things is not a productive exercise.”

Morrison announced Saturday that he would dispatch 3,000 army, navy and air force reservists to help battle the fires. He also committed 20 million Australian dollars ($14 million) to lease fire-fighting aircraft from overseas.

But the moves did little to tamp down the criticism that he had been slow to act, even as he has downplayed the need for his government to address climate change, which experts say played a key role in supercharging the blazes.

As dawn broke over a blackened landscape Sunday, a picture emerged of disaster of unprecedented scale. The New South Wales Rural Fire Service said 150 fires were active in the state, 64 of them uncontrolled.

The wildfires have so far scorched an area twice the size of the U.S. state of Maryland, stretching across Australia’s southeast quadrant, its most densely populated. The fires have killed at least 24 people, including a 47-year-old man who died Saturday night while trying to defend a friend’s home from encroaching flames. Nearly 2,000 homes have been destroyed.

In New South Wales alone, the fires have killed nearly 500 million birds, reptiles and mammals, Sydney University ecologist Chris Dickman told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Australians know to expect summer wildfires. But the blazes arrived early this year, fed by drought and the country’s hottest and driest year on record.

“It’s not something we have experienced before,” New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

“The weather activity we’re seeing, the extent and spread of the fires, the speed at which they’re (moving), the way they are attacking communities that have never seen fire is unprecedented,” she said.

Scientists say there’s no doubt man-made global warming has played a major role in feeding the fires, along with factors like very dry brush and trees and strong winds.

Morrison, chided for past remarks minimizing the need to address climate change, has deflected criticism while trying to change his tone.

“There is no dispute in this country about the issue of climate change globally and its effect on global weather patterns, and that includes how it impacts in Australia,” the prime minister said.

“I have to correct the record here. I have seen a number of people suggest that somehow the government does not make this connection. The government has always made this connection and that has never been in dispute,” he said.

Morrison has faced widespread criticism for taking a family vacation in Hawaii at the start of the wildfire crisis, as well as for his sometimes distracted approach as the disaster has escalated and his slowness in deploying resources.

His handling of the deployment of reservists also came in for criticism Sunday. Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, who is leading the fight in New South Wales, said he learned of the deployment through media reports.

“It is fair to say it was disappointing and some surprise to hear about these things through public announcements in the middle of what was one of our worst days this season, with the second-highest number of concurrent emergency warning fires ever in the history of New South Wales,” he said.

Morrison was also forced to defend a video posted on social media Saturday that promoted the deployment of reservists and the government’s response to the wildfires.

On Sunday, cooler temperatures and lighter winds brought some relief to threatened communities, a day after thousands were forced to flee as flames reached the suburban fringes of Sydney.

Thousands of firefighters fought to contain the blazes, but many fires continued to burn out of control, threatening to wipe out rural townships and causing almost incalculable damage to property and wildlife.

On Saturday, a father and son who were battling flames for two days died on a highway on Kangaroo Island, off South Australia state. Authorities identified them as Dick Lang, a 78-year-old acclaimed bush pilot and outback safari operator, and his 43-year-old son, Clayton. Their family said their losses left them “heartbroken and reeling from this double tragedy.”

Lang, known as “Desert Dick,” led tours for travelers throughout Australia and other countries.

Meanwhile, Australia’s capital, Canberra, was enveloped in a smoky haze Sunday and air quality at midday was measured at 10 times the usual hazardous limit.

In New Zealand, the skies above Auckland were tinged orange by smoke from the bushfires and police were inundated with calls from anxious residents.

———

McMorran reported from Wellington, New Zealand.

[ad_2]

Source link

As wildfires get worse, smoke spreads, stokes health worries

[ad_1]

PARADISE, Calif. —
First came the flames, a raging firestorm propelled by 50 mph (80 kph) wind gusts that incinerated Kelsey Norton’s house and killed 85 people in her community.

Then came the smoke — not just from the forest but also from some 14,000 houses and their contents that burned, generating a thick plume that enshrouded portions of Northern California for weeks and left Norton gasping.

And since the fire, more than a year now, it has been sickness: repeated respiratory infections that sap Norton’s strength, interfere with her work and leave the 30-year-old cardiac care nurse worried about future health problems.

“I don’t want to have cancer in my 50s because I inhaled smoke in my 30s,” she said.

The immediate toll of lives and property lost when a fire tore through the Sierra Nevada foothills town of Paradise, California in November 2018 is well documented. Still unknown is the long-term impact of the intense smoke exposure suffered by the tragedy’s survivors and the hundreds of thousands of people living in communities downwind of the blaze.

Increasingly intense wildfires are scorching forests from across the Western U.S. to Australia and stoking concern among residents and health professionals about long-term health impacts from smoke exposure.

The issue has far-reaching implications as climate change turns some regions of the globe drier and more prone to fires that send up smoke plumes that can travel thousands of miles and affect millions of people.

The unprecedented fires burning across Australia offer the most recent example as they blanket major cities with dangerous air pollution. Smoke from those fires, which started burning in September, by this week had spread across more than 7.7 million square miles (20 million square kilometers) and drifted across the Pacific Ocean to reach South America, according to the United Nation’s meteorological agency and the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service.

Th e fires have torched more than 2,000 houses and killed at least 26 people. Authorities ordered new evacuations in New South Wales and the neighboring state of Victoria as rising temperatures and erratic winds on Friday threatened to fan dozens of blazes still burning out of control.

Both states issued hazardous air quality warnings for affected areas and said people with health problems should consider relocating until the smoke clears.

Compounding the danger, experts and firefighters say, is the proliferation of construction materials and household items made from petroleum-based plastics, ranging from plumbing pipes to exterior siding. Those burn hotter and generate smoke more toxic than wood does, exposing people to numerous hazardous chemicals.

Researchers and health officials are confident more people will get sick and many will die as regions such as the U.S. West see bigger, more intense wildfires.

An estimated 20,000 premature deaths now occur annually in the U.S. due to chronic wildfire smoke exposure. That’s expected to double by the end of the century, according to scientists funded by NASA, as tens of millions of people get exposed to massive “smoke waves” emanating from blazes in Western states.

But while those forecasts help illustrate the profound impacts of a warming climate, they can’t predict which fires will prove deadly and which individuals will develop lung ailments or other illnesses.

One of relatively few long-term studies on the issue is under way at the California National Primate Research Center. Fifty rhesus monkeys living in outdoor pens year-round were exposed to a prolonged period of wildfire smoke as infants in 2008. They’ve developed lungs 20% smaller than another group of monkeys born a year later, researchers found.

“It’s the closest animal model to replicate what happens with kids,” said Lisa Miller, the center’s associate director of research.

The difference first showed up when the animals were adolescents, and has continued as they’ve matured. It’s impossible for the untrained eye to distinguish the smoke-exposed monkeys from hundreds of others that share their pens, but Miller’s team next plans to investigate how the decreased lung function affects activity levels of the monkeys.

As the animals age, any diseases they develop and how they die would give clues into the fate of humans heavily exposed to smoke.

Studies of wildland firefighters also give insights into the risks of smoke inhalation. They’ve shown significantly higher rates of lung cancer and death from heart disease, said Michael Kleinman, who researches the health effects of air pollution and is a professor of environmental toxicology at the University of California, Irvine.

Firefighters get much higher and more frequent doses of smoke, but Kleinman said a proportional increase in illnesses could be expected among the general public exposed to wildfire smoke across California and the West.

“It’s safe to say there will probably more effects at the long-term level,” Kleinman said. “Especially if those events happened over a longer period of time or more repeatedly, there will be cumulative damage to the lung and heart which eventually will lead to chronic disease.”

As she fled with her boyfriend ahead of the fire that destroyed Paradise on the morning of Nov. 8, 2018, Norton said the smoke was so thick “it was like midnight.”

A few days later, she went back to work at a hospital in Chico, about 15 miles (24 kilometers) miles from Paradise. But smoke from the still-burning fire had made it inside the facility.

There weren’t enough face masks to go around so Norton said she went without one for several days.

Initially she felt just a bit wheezy, as she had during the last major fire in the area about a decade earlier. But two weeks later she came down with a respiratory infection that brought fever and severe congestion.

When that finally cleared, she got another, then another — eight or nine infections in all over the past year.

“I just want to break this cycle of sickness,” she said.

Norton says she never smoked, nor did her parents, and never had any respiratory issues prior to the fire. She missed so much work in the months after the fire that she got a warning from a supervisor.

To try to keep from getting sick, she rinses out her sinuses regularly and takes antihistamines to reduce inflammation in her airways. She also avoids large gatherings, including skipping office parties and two weddings, out of fear that she could pick up a virus. She tries to eat healthy and reduce stress by seeing a counselor.

Norton has been to a pulmonologist and two ear nose and throat doctors to little avail, and has been referred to a sinus specialist at Stanford University for further testing.

The pulmonologist who initially treated her, Dinesh Verma, said he sees a “direct correlation” between Norton’s smoke exposure and her subsequent health struggles.

“The logical explanation definitely would be that intense smoke, basically chemical exposure, did damage the airways to the extent that they’re now more susceptible” to infection, Verma said.

Verma said virtually all of his hundreds of patients from Chico and Paradise had complications after the fire that required them to be hospitalized or treated.

Most had preexisting conditions such as asthma and needed only a trigger to send them into a downward spiral. Predicting what will happen with otherwise-healthy patients like Norton is more difficult, he said.

Norton is among about 9,000 people who responded to a health survey as part of a long-term health study of smoke exposure in Paradise and other California communities. The work is led by researchers at the University of California, Davis, who plan to track the lung health of a small number of those respondents in coming years by measuring their breathing capacity.

They’re also collaborating with Williams at the primate center to see if the decline seen in the rhesus monkeys has parallels for human infants.

Dr. Nicholas Kenyon, a pulmonologist involved in the effort, said determining the health effects of smoke is increasingly urgent given the region’s burgeoning population and more frequent fires due to climate change.

“We’ve got the population affected right now, but it’s not going to be isolated to us. This is going to be the entire West,” Kenyon said. “Nobody’s been really inhaling this kind of stuff from structures until now.”

Another participant in the UC Davis study, 64-year-old Elizabeth Watling, lives in Chico and remained there through the fire so she could look after her 94-year-old aunt. She recalls smoke so thick that it left a layer of ash all over town, gray and light as snow. The air remained heavily polluted until it rained more than two weeks later.

When she gardens or does other outdoor activities, Watling wears a mask because her throat has become so easily irritated by dust. She fiddles with it often, taking the mask on and off to talk, and wonders how effective it will be since she can fit her fingers through gaps along her cheeks.

The health issues Watling blames on the smoke are less severe than Norton’s — a scratchy throat that won’t go away, coughs that linger, shortness of breath.

She expected those to go away but they haven’t. Watling now figures that, given her age, she won’t ever fully recover and the smoke could shave years off her life.

“I don’t think the news is good for me,” she said.

———

Follow Matthew Brown on Twitter: @MatthewBrownAP

———

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

[ad_2]

Source link

Q&A: How climate change, other factors stoke Australia fires

[ad_1]

Australia’s unprecedented wildfires are supercharged thanks to climate change, the type of trees catching fire and weather, experts say.

And these fires are so extreme that they are triggering their own thunderstorms.

Here are a few questions and answers about the science behind the Australian wildfires that so far have burned about 5 million hectares (12.35 million acres), killing at least 17 people and destroying more than 1,400 homes.

“They are basically just in a horrific convergence of events,” said Stanford University environmental studies director Chris Field, who chaired an international scientific report on climate change and extreme events. He said this is one of the worst, if not the worst, climate change extreme events he’s seen.

“There is something just intrinsically terrifying about these big wildfires. They go on for so long, the sense of hopelessness that they instill,” Field said. “The wildfires are kind of the iconic representation of climate change impacts.”

Q: IS CLIMATE CHANGE REALLY A FACTOR?

A: Scientists, both those who study fire and those who study climate, say there’s no doubt man-made global warming has been a big part, but not the only part, of the fires.

Last year in Australia was the hottest and driest on record, with the average annual temperature 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) above the 1960 to 1990 average, according to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology. Temperatures in Australia last month hit 121.8 F (49.9 C).

“What would have been a bad fire season was made worse by the background drying/warming trend,’’ Andrew Watkins, head of long-range forecasts at Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, said in an email.

Mike Flannigan, a fire scientist at the University of Alberta in Canada, said Australia’s fires are “an example of climate change.”

A 2019 Australian government brief report on wildfires and climate change said, “Human-caused climate change has resulted in more dangerous weather conditions for bushfires in recent decades for many regions of Australia.”

Q: HOW DOES CLIMATE CHANGE MAKE THESE FIRES WORSE?

A: The drier the fuel — trees and plants — the easier it is for fires to start and the hotter and nastier they get, Flannigan said.

“It means more fuel is available to burn, which means higher intensity fires, which makes it more difficult — or impossible — to put out,” Flannigan said.

The heat makes the fuel drier, so they combine for something called fire weather. And that determines “fuel moisture,” which is crucial for fire spread. The lower the moisture, the more likely Australian fires start and spread from lightning and human-caused ignition, a 2016 study found.

There’s been a 10% long-term drying trend in Australia’s southeast and 15% long-term drying trend in the country’s southwest, Watkins said. When added to a degree of warming and a generally southward shift of weather systems, that means a generally drier landscape.

Australia’s drought since late 2017 “has been at least the equal of our worst drought in 1902,” Australia’s Watkins said. “It has probably been driven by ocean temperature patterns in the Indian Ocean and the long term drying trend.”

Q: HAS AUSTRALIA’S FIRE SEASON CHANGED?

A: Yes. It’s about two to four months longer, starting earlier especially in the south and east, Watkins said.

“The fires over the last three months are unprecedented in their timing and severity, started earlier in spring and covered a wider area across many parts of Australia,” said David Karoly, leader of climate change hub at Australia’s National Environmental science Program. “The normal peak fire season is later in summer and we are yet to have that.”

Q: IS WEATHER, NOT JUST LONG-TERM CLIMATE, A FACTOR?

A: Yes. In September, Antarctica’s sudden stratospheric warming — sort of the southern equivalent of the polar vortex — changed weather conditions so that Australia’s normal weather systems are farther north than usual, Watkins said.

That means since mid-October there were persistent strong westerly winds bringing hot dry air from the interior to the coast, making the fire weather even riskier for the coasts.

“With such a dry environment, many fires were started by dry lightning events (storms that brought lightning but limited rainfall),” Watkins said.

Q: ARE PEOPLE STARTING THESE FIRES? IS IT ARSON?

A: It’s too early to tell the precise cause of ignition because the fires are so recent and officials are spending time fighting them, Flannigan said.

While people are a big factor in causing fires in Australia, it’s usually accidental, from cars and trucks and power lines, Flannigan said. Usually discarded cigarettes don’t trigger big fires, but when conditions are so dry, they can, he said.

Q: ARE THESE FIRES TRIGGERING THUNDERSTORMS?

A: Yes. It’s an explosive storm called pyrocumulonimbus and it can inject particles as high as 10 miles into the air.

During a fire, heat and moisture from the plants are released, even when the fuel is relatively dry. Warm air is less dense than cold air so it rises, releasing the moisture and forming a cloud that lifts and ends up a thunderstorm started by fire. It happens from time to time in Australia and other parts of the world, including Canada, Flannigan said.

“These can be deadly, dangerous, erratic and unpredictable,” he said.

Q: ARE THE AUSTRALIAN TREES PRONE TO BURNING?

A: Eucalyptus trees are especially flammable, “like gasoline on a tree,” Flannigan said. Chemicals in them make them catch fire easier, spread to the tops of trees and get more intense. Eucalyptus trees were a big factor in 2017 fires in Portugal that killed 66 people, he said.

Q: HOW CAN YOU FIGHT THESE HUGE AUSTRALIA FIRES?

A: You don’t. They’re just going to burn in many places until they hit the beach, Flannigan said.

“This level of intensity, direct attack is useless,” Flannigan said. “You just have to get out of the way… It really is spitting on a campfire. It’s not doing any good.”

Q: WHAT’S THE LONG-TERM FIRE FUTURE LOOK LIKE FOR AUSTRALIA?

A: “The extreme fire season in Australia in 2019 was predicted,” said Australian National University climate scientist Nerilie Abram. “The question that we need to ask is how much worse are we willing to let this get? This is what global warming of just over 1 degree C looks like. Do we really want to see the impacts of 3 degrees or more are like, because that is the trajectory we are on.”

———

Follow Seth Borenstein on Twitter at @borenbears .

———

The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

[ad_2]

Source link

Watch Sky Information stay



Watch Sky Information stay. At the moment’s prime tales: At the very least 15 persons are useless after a airplane crashed right into a two-storey constructing close to an airport in Kazakhstan, two folks killed in separate Boxing Day home fires and Canadian broadcaster defends choice to chop Donald Trump’s Residence Alone 2 cameo. George Michael’s sister, Melanie Panayiotou, was discovered useless at her residence on Christmas Day, the third anniversary of the singer’s demise.

Learn extra of at the moment’s information:

🔴Kazakhstan airplane crash: Survivor tells how plane was crushed ‘like a tin can’
🔴George Michael’s sister discovered useless on Christmas Day – the third anniversary of singer’s demise
🔴Anthony Knott: CCTV captures final identified picture of lacking firefighter

SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel for extra movies:

Observe us on Twitter: and

Like us on Fb:

Observe us on Instagram:

Sky Information movies are actually accessible in Spanish right here/Los video de Sky Information están disponibles en español aquí

For extra content material go to and obtain our apps:

Apple

Android

supply

Yellow cedar rejected for threatened species itemizing

[ad_1]

An iconic Alaska tree with roots that may freeze to dying if not lined by snow was rejected Friday by a federal company for the threatened species checklist.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service mentioned that yellow cedar doesn’t warrant extra protections as a result of timber will persist in areas the place local weather change doesn’t have an effect on the timber.

Warming impacts timber in lower than 6 p.c of yellow cedar vary that stretches alongside the Pacific Coast from northern California to Alaska’s Panhandle, in response to the company.

“Regardless of impacts from results of local weather change, timber harvest, hearth, and different stressors, the species is predicted to persist in hundreds of stands throughout its vary, in quite a lot of ecological niches, with no predicted lower in total genetic range into the foreseeable future,” the company mentioned in its dedication.

A spokeswoman for the Middle for Organic Variety, one of many teams that petitioned for the yellow cedar itemizing, referred to as the choice reckless and a blow to the Tongass Nationwide Forest, the nation’s largest.

“Alaska’s yellow cedar are struggling a double-whammy from the local weather disaster and intensifying logging of their stronghold on the Tongass,” mentioned Shaye Wolf in an e mail response to questions. “As a substitute of defending these historical timber, the Trump administration is fueling the important thing threats to the species with its reckless local weather denial and logging assault on the Tongass.”

A analysis overview achieved for the Alaska Division of Fish and Sport indicated that 12 p.c of yellow cedar vary in Alaska is affected with 70% to 80% cedar mortality in these areas, she mentioned. Die-offs are projected to worsen, she mentioned.

“If pressing motion shouldn’t be taken to reign in carbon air pollution, by 2070 yellow cedars might now not be capable of survive in half the areas of their vary which might be presently climatically appropriate, with 75 p.c of yellow cedar forests in Alaska experiencing unsuitable situations,” she mentioned.

Yellow cedar timber can reside greater than 1,000 years and are a key a part of southeast Alaska Native tradition.

Native Alaska Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian folks use the rot-resistant wooden for canoe paddles and totem poles. They take lengthwise strips of bark from dwelling timber for weaving baskets and hats, and as backing in blankets. The timber can get better after the bark strip is eliminated and proceed rising.

The itemizing petition, filed in June 2104, mentioned that throughout 781 sq. miles (2023 sq. kilometers) of Alaska’s Panhandle, greater than 70 p.c of yellow cedar timber had died due to root freeze induced by local weather change.

Yellow cedar was amongst a dozen species rejected for itemizing by the company. The company additionally rejected the Berry Cave salamander, cobblestone tiger beetle, Florida clamshell orchid, longhead darter, Ocala vetch, Panamint alligator lizard, Peaks of Otter salamander, redlips darter, Scott riffle beetle, southern hognose snake and yellow anise tree.

[ad_2]

Supply hyperlink