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Articles on Wildfires

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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.
The Maria Fire billows above Santa Paula, California on Oct. 31. AP/Noah Berger

California is living America’s dystopian future

'California is America fast-forward,' writes one scholar. Does that mean that the dystopian infernos that have consumed parts of the state are simply a picture of what awaits the rest of America?
Aja Conrad, the Karuk Tribe’s workforce and internships coordinator, lights a prescribed fire in Orleans, California. Jenny Staats

What western states can learn from Native American wildfire management strategies

Instead of suppressing wildfire, the Karuk Tribe in the Pacific Northwest is using it as an integral part of its climate change management plan. Federal, state and local agencies are taking note.
Fires that affect populated areas raise different safety and public health issues than wildfires. AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Why we need to treat wildfire as a public health issue in California

Two fire researchers argue that recent fires in Northern and Southern California show why health and social equity need to be part of fire preparedness.
A fire rages through wetlands close to Cape Town in February 2017. EPA/Nic Bothma

What science tells us about fire hazards facing Cape Town and its surrounds

The danger of fires in the Cape region this season is partly dependent on how the Fynbos has been managed over the past few decades.
Smoke from wildfires in Siberia drifts east toward Canada and the U.S. on July 30, 2019. NASA

Huge wildfires in the Arctic and far North send a planetary warning

A researcher based in Fairbanks, Alaska, links 2019's record-breaking wildfires in far northern regions of the world to climate change, and describes what it's like as zones near her city burn.
Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources fire rangers wade through floodwaters as they deploy pumps in Pembroke, Ont., in May 2019. Too many authorities involved in fighting flood risks can often paralyze flood management efforts. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Why Canada’s political system makes it difficult to fight floods

Canadian history and international relations theory gives us perspective on why co-ordinating flood management has proven so difficult in Canada and what can be done about it.
A U.S. Forest Service employee using a drop torch during a planned burn in Arizona’s Coconino National Forest. USFS/Ian Horvath

Planned burns can reduce wildfire risks, but expanding use of ‘good fire’ isn’t easy

Decades of wildfire suppression have allowed flammable fuels to pile up in US forests. Scientists and managers say careful use of planned fires can reduce risks of large, out-of-control burns.
Smoke billows from the High Park wildfire west of Fort Collins, Colo., on June 11, 2012, a year of historic drought across much of the western United States. AP Photo/Ed Andrieski

Climate change is driving wildfires, and not just in California

Some observers have blamed recent wildfires on poor forest management, while others point to climate change. In fact, a climate scientist explains, reducing fire risks means tackling both issues.
An image from the International Space Station captures plumes of smoke from California wildfires on August 4, 2018. NASA

Wildfire smoke is becoming a nationwide health threat

Haze from Northern California wildfires has drifted as far east as Philadelphia. Wildfire smoke contains many potentially toxic substances, so anyone exposed to it should take basic precautions.

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