Forests : Are Dead Trees More Combustible Than Live Ones?

The Clark Fork River flows through downtown Mi...
Image via Wikipedia

From Green Blog NY Times

As Justin Gillis explained at length in an Oct. 1 article, huge tracts of forest are dying across the West and around the world as a result of infestations and other phenomena that many link to climate change. A big question for those who manage forests is how these millions of acres of dead trees will respond to wildfire.

Fire damage amid stands of pines destroyed by beetles in Montana.Josh Haner/The New York TimesFire damage amid pines destroyed by beetles in Montana. Some still had needles.

For one thing, men and women are dispatched to the fires to protect life and property, and knowing how a fire will behave in a dead forest is crucial to fighting or containing it and keeping people safe.

The last few years of computer modeling of fire behavior in dead forests indicated that wildfires would not turn into crown fires as readily there as they do in forests of living trees because many of the dead trees have lost their needles. Crown fires are the hottest, fastest-moving and deadliest of all forest fires.

It turns out, however, that the behavior of fires in the real world is different from what the models suggest.

Last summer was the first in a few that was dry enough for some moderately serious wildfires. William Jolly, a Forest Service research ecologist with the Rocky Mountain Research Station’s Fire Sciences Laboratory in Missoula, Mont., had a chance to study them closely.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s