Fascinating animation of satellite imagery

What do you find MOST interesting about this video?

Above: screen grab from the NASA video. This image is from August 31, 2017.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has put together an incredible animation that make it possible to track smoke, dust from Africa, and sea salt. “Sea salt?” you’re thinking? Yes, winds over the oceans pick up salt which becomes visible to sensors on the satellites making it possible to visualize wind patterns, including hurricanes, over the vast expanses of the oceans.

This visualization uses data from NASA satellites, combined with mathematical models in a computer simulation allow scientists to study the physical processes in our atmosphere.

I watched this five times seeing something different with each viewing. So what are you going to watch? Wildfire smoke in Canada? Smoke in Portugal? Smoke in the western U.S.? Smoke in the Southeast? Or dust coming from Africa? Or the wind patterns and hurricanes in the Atlantic? Or the smoke that begins on October 9 northeast of San Francisco generated from the destruction of thousands of homes? Or smoke from fires in Italy?

If you look VERY carefully, you will be able to see a little smoke from something very rare — a wildfire in Greenland, near the coast on the southwest side of the island intermittently between August 2 and 15. (More info about the fire in Greenland.)

I suggest clicking on the full-screen button at the lower right after you start the video. If you’re having trouble viewing it, you can also see it on YouTube.

Chris Fire forced closure of Hwy. 395 in California

Chris Fire
Chris Fire, November 13, 2017. Inciweb photo.

(Updated at 3 p.m. PST November 14, 2017)

A fire started by a vehicle accident around 11 a.m. on Monday has burned about 370 acres 16 air miles northwest of Bridgeport, California. Most of the fire is west of U.S. Highway 395, which was closed overnight from Bridgeport north to the Nevada State Line, but there were several spots across the highway which were picked up. The highway reopened at about 1 p.m. on Tuesday.

Monday afternoon the CHP requested a tow truck for a Jeep Cherokee that had rolled over and burned 40 feet down an embankment.

Ladder fuels on a multi-story structure

lisbon portugal plants window
An apartment building in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

I took this photo in August of 2012 in Lisbon, Portugal, and was looking at it again today and thought about ladder fuels. I’m not sure about the flammability of this ornamental vegetation, but wondered if a fire could spread up the exterior of this apartment building through the plants… and eventually into the interior of the structure. It might stay green year round since in January the average high temperature there is 55F and the average low at night is 45F.

Some high-rise fires have spread up the exteriors, feasting on synthetic material like laminated styrofoam.

South Monroe prescribed fire

These photos were taken yesterday at the South Monroe Mountain Aspen Prescribed Fire on the Fishlake National Forest in central Utah.

Here is the official Forest Service description of the project:

“The purpose of this prescribed fire project is to restore aspen ecosystems on Monroe Mountain by reintroducing fire to the aspen ecosystems through prescribed burning to reduce hazardous fuel accumulations thus reducing the risk to life, property and natural resources, while promoting aspen regeneration. Prescribed fire treatments will be implemented utilizing aerial and/or hand ignition techniques targeting spruce/mixed conifer and seral aspen with mosaic burn patterns and mixed burn severities as an objective. Prescribed fire will occur when 60 percent of the area will be expected to burn leaving 40 percent of the area unburned. The prescribed fire plan also includes burning of slash piled activity fuels.”

The photos were provided by Utah Fire Information.

South Monroe prescribed fire
South Monroe prescribed fire, Fish Lake National Forest, Utah, November 12, 2017. Photo provided by @UtahWildfire.

DOI video recruits veterans

Above: screengrab from the video.

The Department of Interior has produced a professional quality video aimed toward recruiting military veterans into firefighting jobs in the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It is VERY well done and features interviews with veterans currently working as firefighters, emphasizing the common factors of teamwork and camaraderie found in both the military and wildland firefighting. Like a recruitment effort for any job, it tends to glamorize a bit, but that’s to be expected.

Not only is this likely to be effective in filling positions, it could also be helpful to our growing ranks of veterans who are exiting the military and re-entering civilian life.

But, you have to wonder how many positions the DOI expects to fill with veterans, in this atmosphere of declining budgets and shorter terms of employment for firefighters currently working.

Researcher looks at the effects of fuels management and previous fire on Rim Fire severity

Rim Fire, August 21, 2013.
Rim Fire, August 21, 2013. Photo by Robert Martinez.

In a November 13 webinar at 1 p.m. MST Jamie Lydersen will present her findings about how the effects of fuels management and previous fire affected the severity of the Rim Fire that started on the Stanislaus National Forest and burned into Yosemite National Park.

It seems intuitive to those who study wildland fire that a reduction in fuels will result in a decreased rate of spread and fire severity for the next wildfire, but it’s always good to have data that can confirm or refute long-held beliefs.

Here is a description of Ms. Lydersen’s research.

The 255,000 acre 2013 Rim Fire created an opportunity to study fuels treatment effects across a large forested landscape in the Sierra Nevada. We assessed the relative influence of previous fuels treatments (including wildfire), fire weather, vegetation and water balance on Rim Fire severity. Both fuels treatments and previous low to moderate severity wildfire reduced the prevalence of high severity fire. Areas without recent fuels treatments and areas that previously burned at high severity tended to have a greater proportion of high severity fire in the Rim Fire. Areas treated with prescribed fire, especially when combined with thinning, had the lowest proportions of high severity.

Jamie Lydersen is an associate specialist in the department of environmental science, policy and management at the University of California, Berkeley and a contractor for the Pacific Southwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service.

Registration is required to view the webinar.