Magazine article Natural History

Magazine article Natural History

Article excerpt

Fire Fight

As we go to press the tragic news from Arizona is that an out-of-control forest fire trapped and killed nineteen firefighters. Wildfires have been devastating parts of the United States in recent months, but such a loss of life is sobering.

In Colorado firefighters recently found themselves battling the Black Forest Fire, the wildfire most destructive of human habitation in Colorado history, even as scientists from the Warner College of Natural Resources at Colorado State University, in Fort Collins, had begun a large-scale impact study of last year's High Park Fire, one of the state's largest in terms of acreage. In partnership with Colorado's newest research facility, the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON), headquartered in Boulder, the study is "providing critical data to communities still working to repair and restore major water quality, erosion and ecosystem restoration issues in an area spanning more than 136 square miles." The National Science Foundation supports the study and NEON, and NSF's website includes a video about the rapid-response team that began the research soon after last year's fire was under control, and the techniques they used to collect data ( reports/science_nation/neon.jsp?WT. mc_id=USNSF_51).

Before the 2012 drought that created the conditions for Colorado's historic blazes, the state's climatologist, Nolan Doesken, "rarely included many of his thoughts on human-caused climate change in his drought and water reports to Colorado's agriculture and water communities." Now he doesn't hesitate to share his views with some of the state's biggest climate-change skeptics (www. …

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