Saskatchewan forest fires July 2015

Discussions of forest fires and fire management.

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Lee Frelich
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Saskatchewan forest fires July 2015

Post by Lee Frelich » Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:16 am

ENTS:

Over 100 forest fires are burning in boreal forests of northern Saskatchewan. This has produced huge amounts of smoke, causing hazy skies in Minnesota for the last three weeks. Yesterday, July 6, 2015, there was very thick haze and a smell very familiar to me--burning jack pine, balsam fir and spruce--in Minneapolis, 1000 miles from the fires. This was the same smell my car had for 5 years after the Ham Lake Fire of 2007 in northern Minnesota, when the car was steeped in smoke for 3 days while I was trapped in the Boundary Waters Wilderness by a 72,000 acre fire burning the same type of forest. Air quality in Minneapolis was worse than LA or Beijing China yesterday, as a cold front with heavy rain pulled smoke from several thousand feet up in the atmosphere down to the surface. Today (July 7) skies are clear for the first time in weeks due a change in direction of the jet stream, but we could be back in the smoke again at any time as the jet stream continues to steer smoke south from the fires. As the climate continues to warm, the resulting increase in fire frequency in the boreal forest is likely also causing these forest to become a source of CO2 rather than a sink.
Boreal forest fire in Saskatchewan, July 6, 2015. Prince Albert Fire Department
Boreal forest fire in Saskatchewan, July 6, 2015. Prince Albert Fire Department
Smoke obscures the skyline of downtown Minneapolis, July 6, 2015. Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Smoke obscures the skyline of downtown Minneapolis, July 6, 2015. Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Air quality map for Minnesota, July 6, 2015. Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
Air quality map for Minnesota, July 6, 2015. Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

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dbhguru
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Re: Saskatchewan forest fires July 2015

Post by dbhguru » Tue Jul 07, 2015 8:55 am

Lee,

Where I presently am in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, there has been a haze caused by at least one fire in Arizona. Nothing like what you are experiencing, but it makes me ever more aware of the predicament we've gotten ourselves into with human activity partly to blame. Do you see any shift in public opinion where you are among the heretofore climate change deniers? This is not a political forum, so I hesitate to say too much, but I am curious as to what you sense about shifts in public awareness. Any signs of hope?

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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Lee Frelich
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Re: Saskatchewan forest fires July 2015

Post by Lee Frelich » Tue Jul 07, 2015 9:48 am

Bob,

I should have said Saskatchewan and Alberta forest fires, and a few have started in Manitoba as well. It seems there are hundreds of fires in northwestern Canada and Alaska. See the satellite image below of the incredibly large smoke plume that is consolidated from many fires.
Smoke Plume covering most of Minnesota, Iowa and the eastern Dakotas--NASA Modis image, July 6, 2015.
Smoke Plume covering most of Minnesota, Iowa and the eastern Dakotas--NASA Modis image, July 6, 2015.
Regarding your question on climate change, I think there is a core group that continues to hold on to belief that there is no human impact on climate, but they have reached the level of the Flat Earth Society, and within a few years their point of view will not be relevant. We are making very substantial progress, although its a bit too late to mitigate much of the impact.
Lee

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dbhguru
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Re: Saskatchewan forest fires July 2015

Post by dbhguru » Tue Jul 07, 2015 10:56 am

Lee,

That's encouraging news, i.e. the relegation of the climate change deniers to the status of the Flat Earth Society. I'm always curious as to what leads to such bizarre thinking as those who deny scientific truths while making use of every technological device that has its origin in scientific research and theory. Go figure. If these people were far removed cultist, I wouldn't think much about them, but we have them embedded in the Congress. I'd better stop now before I really say what I'm thinking.

Will you be going back to Europe any time soon? What are your biggest areas of research now?

Bob
Robert T. Leverett
Co-founder, Native Native Tree Society
Co-founder and President
Friends of Mohawk Trail State Forest
Co-founder, National Cadre

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Lee Frelich
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Re: Saskatchewan forest fires July 2015

Post by Lee Frelich » Tue Jul 07, 2015 12:49 pm

Bob,

Yes, I am going to Estonia in August. Still working on earthworms, succession after forest fires in the boreal forest, and climate adaptation in the national parks.

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Don
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Re: Saskatchewan forest fires July 2015

Post by Don » Wed Jul 08, 2015 12:44 am

Lee-
I hope the record fire year we're having this year in Alaska isn't adding insult to the injury experienced by your area!
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

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View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

Joe

Re: Saskatchewan forest fires July 2015

Post by Joe » Wed Jul 08, 2015 6:01 am

Lee Frelich wrote: Regarding your question on climate change, I think there is a core group that continues to hold on to belief that there is no human impact on climate, but they have reached the level of the Flat Earth Society, and within a few years their point of view will not be relevant.
Lee
I suspect that, other than the truly brain damaged, most deniers should be called liars instead- because I think they know better- but it's their politics and pocket books that force them to pretend they don't believe in global warming.

As for the religious nuts- they probably are genuine deniers because they just don't care- since Jesus will be back any day and take them to paradise.
Joe

Joe

Re: Saskatchewan forest fires July 2015

Post by Joe » Wed Jul 08, 2015 6:03 am

Lee, it should be interesting to observe the acreage now burning- to see if the way they regenerate is different than in the past, due to global warming. I would hope some grad students are studying this issue.
Joe

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Lee Frelich
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Re: Saskatchewan forest fires July 2015

Post by Lee Frelich » Wed Jul 08, 2015 7:52 am

Joe,

Yes, a lot of people are interested in whether successional patterns after forest fires are changing. Jill Johnstone at the University of Saskatchewan has a project that just started to examine exactly this topic. we are also looking at this in the Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota. we are seeing more red maple coming in after fires, and also more compound disturbances like wind followed by fire that lead to different successional trajectories than the conifer-based successional patterns in the past (i.e. black spruce and jack pine after fir).
Lee

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Don
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Re: Saskatchewan forest fires July 2015

Post by Don » Wed Jul 08, 2015 8:04 am

Lee/Joe-
Back when I was with Grand Canyon NP's Science Center, we were looking at quantifying/qualifying the burn intensity of wildfires there, by "differencing" (change detection) satellite images taken shortly before, and shortly after the wildfire event. The actual time differences between the before and after needed adjusting, but the classification of burn intensity was rather successful when compared to ground-truthing.
I would imagine this could be a tool for detecting climate change differences during this period of transition...
-Don
Don Bertolette - President/Moderator, WNTS BBS
Restoration Forester (Retired)
Science Center
Grand Canyon National Park

BJCP Apprentice Beer Judge

View my Alaska Big Tree List Webpage at:
http://www.akbigtreelist.org

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