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Articles on Wildfires

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On the morning of Sept. 9, San Franciscans woke up to a transformed cityscape. AP Photo/Eric Risberg

Why San Francisco felt like the set of a sci-fi flick

The eerie San Francisco skyline evoked sci-fi movies for a reason. Filmmakers are increasingly using color grading to tinge their films with two hues, orange and teal, to unsettle viewers.
It’s a … fire! Illustration by Anurag Papolu/The Conversation; photo by milorad kravic/iStock via Getty Images

Why gender reveals have spiraled out of control

Increasingly outlandish gender reveal parties align perfectly with the values of an economy that's always scrolling for the next best thing.
Wildfire smoke creates an orange glow over San Francisco, Sept. 9, 2020. Burak Arik/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Coping with Western wildfires: 5 essential reads

How climate change and other human actions have combined to create conditions for explosive wildfires in California, Oregon and Washington state.
The health impact of wildfire exposure depends in part on the fire itself and how much smoke a person breathes in, how often and for how long. AP Photos/Noah Berger

What’s in wildfire smoke, and why is it so bad for your lungs?

Wildfires blanketing several Western cities are creating hazardous health conditions. Don't count on cloth masks to protect your lungs.
The 2018 Camp Fire north of Sacramento burned everything in its path: cars, power lines, and buildings – and contaminated local drinking water. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Wildfires can poison drinking water – here’s how communities can be better prepared

Buildings aren't the only things at risk in wildfires. Recent disasters in California have left local water system contaminated with toxic chemicals afterward, slowing return and recovery.
This Arctic heat wave has been unusually long-lived. The darkest reds on this map of the Arctic are areas that were more than 14 degrees Fahrenheit warmer in the spring of 2020 compared to the recent 15-year average. Joshua Stevens/NASA Earth Observatory

100 degrees in Siberia? 5 ways the extreme Arctic heat wave follows a disturbing pattern

The Arctic is warming about twice as fast as the planet as a whole, with serious consequences. Scientists have been warning about this for decades.
Fire cut a devastating swath through Australia in 2019-20, leaving a heavy toll of death and destruction in its wake. (Shutterstock)

Money won’t save the planet, so philanthropy needs to adapt

Philanthropy in the form of financial donations is not a solution to the natural disasters caused by climate change. A new philanthropy of social change is needed.
The Rim Fire burned 256,000 acres of the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park in 2013. (USDA Forest Service, Chris Stewart)

Buried in mud: Wildfires threaten North American water supplies

Wildfires reduce the reliability of city water supplies in North America. But active forest management provides a key to the solution.
Sonoma County, California hired this herd of sheep from Sweetgrass Grazing to reduce invasive plants and flammable fuels and make room for native plants on protected land. Sonoma Open Space

Young California ranchers are finding new ways to raise livestock and improve the land

A new generation of ranchers is exploring sustainable ways to raise cattle, sheep and goats in California. Some are grazing herds on fire-prone lands, reducing wildfire risks and improving soils.
To understand the effects of a big die-off, researchers set up experiments with wild boar carcasses. Brandon Barton, Mississippi State University

Rotting feral pig carcasses teach scientists what happens when tons of animals die all at once, as in Australia’s bushfires

Death is a natural part of ecosystems. But it's unusual for a large number of animals to all die at once. Researchers are investigating how a mass mortality event affects what's left afterwards.
Debris left behind after a tornado strike on Jefferson City, Missouri, May 23, 2019. AP Photo/Summer Ballentine

Millions of burnt trees and rusted cars: Post-disaster cleanup is expensive, time-consuming and wasteful

Government agencies have detailed plans for responding to disasters, but one piece doesn't get enough attention: cleaning up the mess that's left behind.
Suburban infrastructure growth has resulted in functional landscapes designed to serve the growing needs of urban peripheries. Zhu Hongzhi/Unsplash

The suburbs can help cities in the fight against climate change

Located at the edges of cities, suburbs have a role to play in urban resilience to disasters caused or exacerbated by climate change.
Burning invasive, nonnative grasses on federal land at Lower Table Rock, Oregon. BLM

Invasive grasses are fueling wildfires across the US

Along with climate change and drought, invasive grasses are promoting wildfires across the US, even in areas that don't normally burn.
A firefighter walks along a containment line while battling a 2018 wildfire in Redding, California. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Data science could help Californians battle future wildfires

Researchers like myself are finding transformative new ways to help planners, leaders and first responders tackle disasters from afar.

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