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Climate change effects intensify – and California burns

California burns as the effects of climate change intensify, Independent Australia  Norm Sanders As the California fires continue to rage and over 200,000 homes are evacuated, Trump, Abbott and others can deny it all they want but climate change is to blame, writes Dr Norm Sanders. “………At this writing, more than 210,000 acres had burned and 200,000 people had had to flee their homes. The flames were approaching the eastern edge of Santa Barbara at Montecito where I had lived with my family. Residents have been ordered to evacuate. Some are staying put. …..

Is climate change to blame? California Governor Jerry Brown thinks so. Governor Brown has told the State’s residents to get used to destructive wildfires in winter, declaring them “the new normal”. He said it will take “heroic” efforts in the U.S. and abroad to stem climate change and urged Congress to pay more attention to dealing with natural disasters such as fires, floods and earthquakes. He told network television that Donald Trump did not appreciate that actions such as withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate deal might contribute to more such devastating events.

The California fire season was once largely confined to the hotter months when rain is scarce, but firefighters are coming to realise that climate change is now a year-round threat. It is now official: 2017 is the deadliest and most destructive year on record for wildfires in California. Dry conditions, high temperatures, roaring winds and bone-dry trees and brush are all factors responsible for the devastation. A key factor is wind.

UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain told KPCC radio:……..

Lack of rain is another factor. Between 2012 and 2016, California was riddled with extreme drought. Droughts in and of themselves aren’t uncommon, but the most recent one was made worse by human-caused climate change, according to a paper written by A. Park Williams, a climate scientist at Columbia University. (There has been no rain in Los Angeles at all so far in this “wet” season.)

The current lack of rain can be blamed on a ridge of high pressure sitting off the west coast of North America, blocking storms from passing over the State.

USDA agriculture meteorologist Brad Rippey said:

“Hopefully this’ll [SIC] be a temporary feature, maybe it’ll stick around for just a couple of weeks, but man, I sure hope it’s not going to stick around for the entire winter.”

Abundant research supports the theory that warming in the western tropical Pacific is associated with the arrival of blocking ridges This area seems to be warming faster than the other parts of the ocean.

The melting of Arctic sea-ice could also contribute to the formation of ridges off the West Coast according to another recent study. Caused by global warming, the Arctic could be ice-free during the summer months resulting in large shifts in climatic patterns.

The other important factor in the fires is the fuel load. There was enough rain last winter to promote grass growth and there was also an abundance of dead brush, which had died during the drought. The grass has become tinder dry since then, not only from a lack of rain but also because of the heat during the record-setting summer and fall.

As temperatures rise, so does the speed at which moisture evaporates from the soil. Higher temperatures combined with a lack of rain and dry hills covered in brush create perfect conditions for rapidly spreading fires……..,11022


December 12, 2017 - Posted by | climate change, USA

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