Last week, the US Naval Research Laboratory held a very 2021 press conference, in which scientists reported a very 2021 outbreak of “smoke thunderclouds.” Catastrophic wildfires, exacerbated by catastrophic climate change , had produced a rash of pyrocumulonimbus plumes over the western United States and Canada, known in the scientific vernacular as pyroCb.
But if you’re wondering why we don’t often hear about catastrophic fires in the plains states, like we do in California, Oregon, and Colorado, that’s because “fire weather” just means the conditions are right for a blaze—it doesn’t mean they necessarily happen.
You know you can find an answer, because there are more people than houses, but it may take some looking (especially if they don’t share a last name).This question belongs to a complexity class called TFNP, short for “total function nondeterministic polynomial.” It is the collection of all computational problems that are guaranteed to have solutions and whose solutions can be checked for correctness quickly.
A wildfire that would once chew through a few dozen acres of underbrush, making way for new plant growth, now burns with extreme ferocity, producing so much heat and smoke that it can generate its own thunderclouds , which light more fires.
“It's a really pretty and kind of understated shrub,” says Bryant Baker, conservation director of the Los Padres ForestWatch, which advocates for the protection of California’s habitats.
A decade-long effort by 150 scientists has mapped microhabitats like this across the United States, using such data to identify the most resilient landscapes in the face of climate change.
It’s grief over the thousands of structures and at least 33 lives lost so far; grief over another villain conspiring with Covid-19 to lock people indoors; grief that the orange-hued dystopia of Blade Runner is now a reality in smoky San Francisco ; grief over losing any sense of normalcy, or indeed a clear future.
During World War I, this stretch of pastoral landscape, which the generals (and now historians) called the Ypres Salient, was one of the most heavily trenched, mined, mortared, bombed, gassed, pillaged, burned, and bullet-riddled places along the Western Front.
A heat dome “is really just sort of a colloquial term for a persistent and/or strong high-pressure system that occurs during the warm season, with the end result being a lot of heat,” says climate scientist Daniel Swain of UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability.
According to radiocarbon dates of charcoal fragments mixed in with the layers of dirt that make up the platform, people started building Aguada Fenix by around 1000 BCE (although Inomata and his colleagues can’t rule out the idea that construction started even earlier).
The grazers might also prefer grasses to shrubs, which changes the vertical structure of the vegetation, further increasing the fire risk.So while the grazers are doing a helpful job of eating up some potential tinder, they’re leaving behind vegetation that is extra-flammable—which is a mixed bag, in terms of wildfire prevention.
Latimer / TNC A new study published in the Journal of Applied Ecology finds that birds were generally less stressed and in better condition on more locally-diverse farms and on farms embedded in more natural landscapes .
Lightning—a phenomenon more suited to places like Florida—is now striking within 100 miles of the North Pole .All the while, researchers are racing to quantify how the plant species of the Arctic are coping with a much, much warmer world.
Yet another study found feral cats are highly attracted to areas that burned recently and tend to avoid ones three months or older, perhaps because vegetation has begun to grow back by that time, or they’ve simply obliterated the prey species there.
But there are fictions writers out there who write well, and passionately, about the natural world.Many of them are written by novelists who are also scientists or science writers, and they all get the details of wildlife and wild places right.
Photograph: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of ArizonaThe scale of this photo makes it’s hard to tell how massive these sand dunes are.Photograph: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of ArizonaThis image looks like something seen through a microscope, but no, this is a large swath of Martian terrain.
Stretching across more than 4,000 square miles of South America’s Altiplano (high plain), Salar de Uyuni (literally, the salts of Uyuni, the nearest town) is the world’s largest salt flat, a nearly featureless white landscape left behind by the evaporation of prehistoric lakes.
Around a decade ago, South Korean photographer Seunggu Kim began noticing a new trend of luxury apartment complexes in Seoul being built around elaborate re-creations of famous Korean mountains.
For the first time the Whakatipu lake floor will be mapped to build a picture of the potential for local tsunami hazards in the future.
When I asked Caltech geologist Brian Wernicke, a giant in the field of global geophysics, if it was possible that Faulds was paying too much attention to the Walker Lane, he replied, quickly and without irony: “Well, it's the most interesting place in the world.” In terms of understanding how continents deform and how seismic hazards relate to plate tectonics, he added, “it's an unparalleled natural laboratory.”.
"I took a lot of the photographs from my driveway, essentially." The hard work of local firefighters saved the house, and Cooley continued photographing the aftermath of the fire, which eventually consumed over 7,000 acres, becoming one of the largest in Los Angeles history.
Drone Scouts, of CourseWu has shot conceptual landscape photography in some of the world's most remote locations—East Java, Patagonia, Chile's Atacama Desert, Norway's Svalbard Archipelago—but this shoot, part of a mini-documentary about Wu's photography done as part of a Coors Light ad campaign, gave him the opportunity to highlight global warming by photographing a fast-receding glacier, one of the last in South America.
"The forest stands its ground, fights back, and survives," he says.Related StoriesLaura MalloneeThe 'Liquidators' Who Risked It All to Clean Up ChernobylLaura MalloneeHow That Magical Jack Dorsey–Alex Jones Photo HappenedLaura MalloneeA Cross-Country Road Trip, Courtesy of Google Street ViewFrance lost 60,000 acres to wildfires last year, most in the southern Mediterranean rim.
Historically, high-severity fires kill trees but do not destroy the forest. In Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, fires in 2016 burned young forests that regenerated from fires in 1988 and 2000.