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Record Temperatures & Wildfire Risk

Mark Alonzo
Thanks to recent rain along the Front Range, mountains, and plains of Colorado, the image below represents what we hope is behind us as a very early and robust fire season in CO and the Western US. The image below (captured by the Pleiades 1A satellite) is an unfortunate indication of the very early forest fire season we have experienced so far.  (image source: http://www10.giscafe.com/blogs/gissanjay/2012/06/29/colorado-forest-fires-photo-interpretation/) As of July 10, 2012 there are currently just two active fires in the state of Colorado, 11 new large fires have been reported across the country, and 17 states are experiencing active large fires. So far this year 2,723,393 acres have burned compared with the 10-year average of 2,888,097 acres lost annually. Also in the news, the first half of 2012 was just reported as the hottest year on record since record-keeping began in 1895! The image below compares this year’s temperatures to the two hottest years on record. It’s safe to say we are not off to a good start! Are the fires and the warming pattern related? It’s perplexing that the second-hottest year on record to date was 2010 – the year in which the least amount of acreage burned in the past 10 years with a loss of only 1,558,974 acres. Several states have set all-time high temperature records this year more than 170 of those records set in the second half of June! Let’s just hope that information paired with new technology will enable us to have positive effects on environmental shifts in years to come. For more statistics see: http://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/nfn.htm http://www.columbia.edu/~mhs119/Temperature/T_moreFigs/ http://www.columbia.edu/~mhs119/Temperature/T_moreFigs/

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