Malcolm Radio Show

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Understanding the Rim Fire

Posted by Malcolm on August 30, 2013

Containment of the Rim Fire

So for next weeks Green Rant I will be talking about the Rim fire that is burning threw Yosemite National Park. More importantly I will be talking about the effects of climate change on wildfires, a phenomenon that has always existed. It has only been recently that wildfires have turned into an insurance nightmare as well as reaching new unbelievable sizes. Before you listen to the podcast there are a few links you should check out.

First is the Fire Tracker, from 89.3 KPCC. This widget has been tracking containment, acres burned, and the impact of the fire on homes/structures. Currently, about 228,670 acres have burned and over 5,000 structures are threatened. What is lacking from this tracker is the current impact on campgrounds in Yosemite, all of which have remained open despite concerns over air quality.

Second is a video that links climate change to wildfires. Like the many other impacts of climate change, it is impossible to say something like “the Rim Fire is the result of climate change.” It is not, however, impossible to say that the higher frequency and intensity of wildfires is the result of a changing climate. Essentially,¬†warming temperatures, prolonged drought, and a century’s worth of fire suppression policy are “priming the system to make it more flammable.”

The last link ties into my GIS class this semester, which is a Perspectives Map. Geographic Information Systems, “lets us visualize, question, analyze, interpret, and understand data to reveal relationships, patterns, and trends.” (ESRI) The series of 4 maps visualize the Rim Fire in an easy to understand way. The critical points of interest and the power/water infrastructure maps relate the importance of containing the fire.

I have faith that the fire will be contained soon with few, if any, casualties. But without addressing climate change, can we say the same for all future wildfires?