Wildfire Trends

We were given different articles about wildfires and their trends across the United States. I would

like to talk about the many different things that can contribute to the causes of these wildfires and

the trends that we see. When we have a wildfire anywhere across the globe there are impacts on

air quality, health of both humans and animals and, the environment. We can see these different

impacts of wildfires through the image we have been given and the articles given.

While reading these articles I found that global warming, and earlier snow melt is causing

an increase in the wildfires that we have seen over the years. First, global warming can be a huge

factor to the growth of the wildfires. The world is now heating faster making it harder for us to

have a wet season. When the snow melts earlier in the year we are not getting enough water,

causing dry seasons making it easier for a wildfire to start and be spread. In the article “Warming

and Earlier Spring Increase Western U.S. Forest Wildfire Activity” written by A. L. Westerling

he says, “Vulnerability of western U.S. forests to more frequent wildfires due to warmer

temperatures is a function of the spatial distribution of forest area and the sensitivity of the local

water balance to changes in the timing of spring.” This shows us that a factor to more wildfires is

a shorter winter and rainy season in the United States. When we have less rainy season

vegetation is dry which makes it more flammable causing a greater area for the fires to grow

across the land.

In an article written by Philip E. Dennison he states, “Seasonal temperature and

precipitation did not have significant trends, with the exception of significantly increasing

summer temperature in the warm Deserts ecoregion.” This is stating that seasonal temperatures

may not be a factor in the growth of wildfires only with the exception of deserts whose

temperatures are very high. Although we do see a change in the temperature of seasons it may
not be a factor other than it being more dry in different times of the years as opposed to other

parts of the year. At another part of this article he talks about fuels for the fires, some fuels for

fires would be oxygen, plants, or another type of gas. These can start a fire if in the right

conditions. In another article, “Fire in the Earth System”, it states “...vegetation types leave

distinct signatures in the fossil record, chronicling changes in their abundance and geographic

range.” This is stating that vegetation burned can be shown throughout the years through fossils

or rock formation. This gives scientist and estimate of how many fires or if a fire has burned in

this area. Vegetation is a good source of starter for the fires to start, especially if they are dry. In

this same article it gives this example, “tropical grasses produce large quantities of fine, aerated

fuels that become highly flammable during dry periods, and their C4 photosynthetic pathway

produces organic matter characteristically depleted.” Showing vegetation is highly flammable

when it is in a dry season.

Now, the impacts of wildfires are huge. One big impact is the land burned by a wildfire

as it can keep moving until put out by an outside source or from itself. As I mentioned earlier any

kind of fire needs fuel to be able to start whether it is oxygen or a starter it needs to have these

things to grow. On dry land fires can start on dry plants or anything else. When it is in an area

that has moisture it is harder for the fire to continue to grow or burn more areas. From personal

experience I would go to my aunt and uncles who live in Idaho for weeks at a time, during a dry

season they saw many fires start. I would ask them how they could stop the fire when it was

spreading so quickly across the field. They told me that they would either till an area up bringing

the moist soil to the top to slow the fire down or use planes to stop the fire. This shows that

sometimes fires take more effort to burn out but if you keep trying and figure out different ways

to put it out it will eventually burn itself out. The land that was burned from this wildfire was not
used for a little while for either grazing land for animals or crops. It takes a while for vegetation

in the land to be available again. In the article titled, “Large Wildfire trends in the Western

United States 1984-2011 it says, “ ..invasion of nonnative annual grasses across large areas of the

Great Basin has been linked to increases in fire frequency and area burned in recent decades.”

This is proving the statement that if we have wild grasses or drier land it is easier for a fire to

spread compared to if the fire started in a wetter climate. Those areas with higher drought were

seen to have more fire spread and those with more fine fuels were seen with a larger number of

fires burned.

Another impact of wildfires is the impact they have on the air quality and health. When a

fire is burning you generally know there is one when you see the smoke of it, or when you can

smell the fire. In an article titled “Health Impacts of Wildfires” it says there are four main

exposure pathways, direct exposure to the heat and radiation, exposure to smoke dispersed in the

air, Exposure to Land/soil contaminated by the chemical products of burning vegetation, from

soil erosion caused by vegetation removal during the fire, or from suspended dust dispersed

through the air and, Water contamination, caused by particulate matter deposition on water or

leachates from the land directly affected by fire. When someone inhales smoke they are inhaling

gaseous emissions including carbon monoxide, nitrous oxides and benzene. This could cause

long term medical issues for some that inhale enough. These health issues don’t just apply to

humans they also apply to animals. When wildfires burn they also inhale the gaseous emissions

coming from the fires as well as the issue that they might be living and grazing in that area. Once

it is burned there are no nutritions available for the animal leaving it to find another place to live

or die. If you look at the image provided, it shows where we are and the influx of charcoal and
the fire activity. When you look at it you automatically realize the influx you see towards where

we are.

Also, looking at this image I was just talking about you will see the influx as who drives

the fires. When you first look you don’t realize until you read everything that we are a main

cause as to why fires start. Industrialization is a big factor to the spread and number of wildfires

seen around the globe. We are now taking up a lot of room creating more fires in the areas we

live. I think that us as humans have a large part in the creation of fires as we have a lot of

technology or things that we use now that are likely to cause a fire to break out. We are a large

spike in the graph, even climate goes down compared to the wildfire growth. In one article by

Westerling it is stated, “The overall importance of climate in wildfire activity underscores the

urgency of ecological restoration and fuels management to reduce wildfire hazards to human

communities and to mitigate ecological impacts of climate change in forests that have undergone

substantial alterations due to past land uses. At the same time, however, large increases in

wildfire driven by increased temperatures and earlier spring snow melts in forests where land-use

history had little impact on fire risks indicates that ecological restoration and fuels management

alone will not be sufficient to reverse current wildfire trends.” This statement suggests that our

use of land is causing more fire outbreaks but even if we stopped using land we will not just stop

ires as they are driven by many different forces.

I would also like to talk about the trends we might see in the next few years, if we keep

expanding as communities and building more there is a high probability of more fire, but even if

we don’t there is still that probability. Wildfires are caused and spread by many different factors

that come together to create those fires. Some stay in an area and tend to not spread, but others

are spread rapidly across land either through wind or more fuels. If we keep expanding and
destroying our forests we are losing the CO2 from those trees that we need to breathe, if we have

more fires in our communities the smoke will take over. Trees are important in our ability to stay

alive through everything. Throughout the next couple years we may see an increase in wildfires

because of the global warming taking place, this causes us to have longer dry season and less of

the snow. As I have mentioned before it can lead to the spread of wildfire, we can have fires that

start but don’t get anywhere if they do have the fuels that they need they will be able to travel

farther and make it a larger burned area.

To close I would like to finish by talking about wildfires and the causes of them, as

mentioned before there is the aspect of more colonization, dry lands, and everything else, but we

can cause them from going out camping and not properly taking care of the fire after we are

finished with it. Some fires may burn out when they are down to minimum resources, but most

will still have a spark going on that can cause an even bigger spark and a bigger fire. Once you

have lost control of a fire it is very difficult to get it back under control, water may not do the

trick. You may need more help than that. Take the right precautions, have a fire pit or surround it

with rocks, have something nearby to put the fire out as quickly as possible, and be aware of

your surroundings.

In conclusion, I would just like to sum up what I have said in my writings. We can see an

increase in wildfires and the spread of them because of the different elements. Global warming is

happening making it easier for a fire to ignite or spread, colonization of our people is making an

increase in the fires seen across the world, and there are big impacts on wildlife and our lives

when a wildfire is ignited. It bad for animals health as they inhaled smoke or may lose their

source of food, and it is bad for us as we inhaled the gases emitted into the air through the smoke

of any fire. This causes bad air quality making it hard for everyone to breathe and go about their
daily events. We have ways to prevent as much fires as we can, if we all just take precautions and

be aware of what is going on around us. Wildfires are dangerous and are bad for the

environment, let's keep them away as much as we can.

Works Cited:

Health Issues With Wildfires
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3492003/

Nasa Wildfire Image
https://slcc.instructure.com/files/58655003/download?download_frd=1
Bowman
https://slcc.instructure.com/files/58654997/download?download_frd=1

Dennison
https://slcc.instructure.com/files/58655001/download?download_frd=1

Westerling
https://slcc.instructure.com/files/58655004/download?download_frd=1

My ePortfolio
http://emilyfurnell.weebly.com/