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Climate: NASA study reinforces grim wildfire projections

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Continuing drought in Colorado allowed the Fern Lake Fire in Rocky Mountain National Park to flare up in late November. Photo courtesy NPS/Dennis Geving.

Frequency of high wildfires expected to double by mid-century

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — This past summer’s drought and destructive wildfires in Colorado showed how just a short period of hot, dry weather intensifies fire conditions, and there’s more and more research suggesting that global warming will make things worse in the next few decades.

In one of the most recent studies, NASA scientists reported this week that wildfire activity is likely to increase significantly by the middle of the century, putting natural resources and human developments at even greater risk.

“Climate models project an increase in fire risk across the U.S. by 2050, based on a trend toward drier conditions that favor fire activity and an increase in the frequency of extreme events,” said Doug Morton, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Continue reading

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Study: Forest thinning increases carbon releases

Logging on the Frisco Peninsula.

New study challenges ssumptions that thinning helps reduce carbon emissions from forest fires

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Assumptions that forest thinning treatments help sequester carbon are not grounded in science — instead, recent research shows that thinning actually releases more carbon to the atmosphere than any amount saved by successful fire prevention.

The study acknowledges that there are many valid reasons to thin forests, but increased carbon sequestration is not one of them, according to scientists from Oregon State University. Continue reading

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