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Archive for Climate Change

Fires Burning Across Sumatra, Indonesia

1.0N 102.3E

March 7th, 2014 Category: Climate Change, Fires MODISTerra

Sumatra, Indonesia – March 7th, 2014

Hundreds of fires burning across the Island of Sumatra release plumes of smoke that blow towards the southwest.

Clearing land for timber and agriculture is likely to blame for Indonesia’s latest bout of fires. According to data from Global Forest Watch – a new online system that tracks tree cover change, fires, and other information in near-real time – roughly half of these fires are burning on land managed by oil palm, timber, and logging companies – despite the fact that using fire to clear land is illegal in Indonesia.

California Emergency as Huge Yosemite Fire ‘Rim Fire’ Doubles in Size

37.8N 119.5W

August 26th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Fires VIIRSSuomi-NPP

USA – August 24th, 2013

Night Image – Fire Front

Firefighters in California are struggling to gain control of a huge wildfire which has reached the edge of Yosemite National Park. The Rim Fire covers nearly 225 sq miles (582 sq km) and threatens a major reservoir serving San Francisco.

The detail image shows the extent of the fire front. The image acquired during the day of the 24 August can be compared with the image taken at night on the same day.

The fire is just 7% contained after burning for more than a week, officials say, up from 2% containment on Friday. Strong winds have fanned the flames closer to nearby towns raising the risk of flying debris sparking more fires.

More than 5,000 homes are endangered by the blaze, which began on 17 August from still unknown causes in the Stanislaus National Forest.

Climate Change’s Impacts on Lake Poopó, Bolivia: Reduced Area and Biodiversity – July 1st, 2013

18.7S 67W

July 1st, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Image of the day, Lakes, Salt Flats VIIRSSuomi-NPP

Bolivia – June 28th, 2013

Visible high on the Bolivian altiplano are the green waters of Lake Poopó and the bright white surface of the Salar de Uyuni. Lake Poopó’s area has decreased by 50% in the last 25 years, with serious consequences for the populations of resident and migratory waterbirds.

The lake is located at approximately 3700 m above sea level, covering an approximate area of 967,000 ha, making it the second biggest lake in Bolivia, after Lake Titicaca (visible in the upper part of the full image), which is shared with Peru. However, in only 25 years its area has decreased by about 17,400 ha, representing almost 50% of its total area.

The decrease in the wetland’s area of open water has been attributed principally to climate change, which, in conjunction with current hydrological conditions (high rates of evaporation, low rainfall, and low flow rates of the rivers flowing into the lake), mean that water levels in the lake are not rising. This has had serious impacts on the biodiversity which depends on the wetland, given that the salinity has increased, thus decreasing survival rates of some species, with subsequent consequences in the local economy.

The change in size of the wetland has represented a considerable loss of available habitat for migratory bird species, for which the lake represents an important habitat, especially during the dry season (May to September), coinciding with the southern winter. However, drastic decreases in the populations of these species have been detected since 2007. Preliminary results suggest that the reason for this decline is the loss of available habitat as a result of the reduced area of Lake Poopó, and the accumulation of solid waste around the shores of the lake (click here for more information).


Climate Change Fuelling Colorado Wildfires – June 27th, 2013

38.0N 108W

June 28th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Fires, Image of the day VIIRSSuomi-NPP

USA – June 26th, 2013

Smoke billows forth from wildfires blazing in the forests of the Rocky Mountains, in the state of Colorado, USA. These fires have already consumed 125 square miles and are zero percent contained.

What’s propelling these fires are dry conditions made worse by strong winds and an ongoing spruce-beetle infestation. The beetles tunnel under bark, laying eggs that will eventually kill trees. Scientists have reached a consensus that climate change is to blame:

North America is witnessing the largest pine-beetle epidemic in recorded history. From Canada’s Yukon Territory to New Mexico, pine trees by the hundreds of millions are succumbing to a fungus that the beetles carry. The pine needles of infected trees first turn a violent red, then they fall, and, finally, the dead tree topples over. Year by year, communities have watched a scourge advance across mountainsides and through neighborhoods, trees turning from green to red to gray. The beetles now attack 12 pine species, from the high-elevation whitebark pine to the lower-elevation ponderosa and piñon. The blight has devastated 3.3 million acres in Colorado alone since the 1990s.

Beetles kill, die off, and regenerate, all of which is part of a lodgepole pine forest’s natural life cycle. But human activity helped set the stage for the current epidemic. Decades of fire suppression have left the West with dense stands of vulnerable, elderly trees. Climate has also played a role. Frigid winters that usually kill the beetles have become, over the past 20 years, the exception rather than the rule. Earlier snowmelt and longer summers have altered the beetles’ range and life cycle; they now attack pines at higher altitudes and latitudes, and they reproduce twice a year instead of once. Earlier springs and a series of dry years have also weakened trees, turning them into ideal beetle food (click here for more information).

Correlation Between Climate Change and Tectonic Activity by Lake Rukwa, Tanzania

8S 32.4E

June 26th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Lakes MODISAqua

Tanzania – June 26th, 2013

Scientists have found a correlation between climatically induced lake level change in Lake Rukwa, seismo-tectonic activation of the regional fault network (underneath Lake Rukwa and the Kanda fault between Lakes Rukwa and Tanganyika) and the timing of the recent strong volcanic eruptions in the Rungwe Volcanic Province.

This relation is explained taking into account that Lake Rukwa is very sensitive to climate change as it occupies a flat depression and its overflow outlet is 180 m above its present-day level. Its lake level rises rapidly when the climate becomes more humid. Increases in lake level mean an increase in the load in the basin and perturbation of the ambient tectonic stresses (click here for more information).

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