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'Hidden' Fires Burning in Amazon Rain Forest

understory fires amazon rain forest

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#1    Still Waters

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 03:36 PM

Small fires in the Amazon rain forest are having a huge impact.

A new satellite imaging technique has allowed scientists to see Amazonian fires burning beneath the jungle canopy, called "understory fires," which were previously difficult to detect. These fires destroy several times more forest than is taken out by deforestation each year, according to a new study,

http://www.livescien...roy-amazon.html

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#2    Ashotep

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 05:59 PM

If they are starting near inhabited areas looks like they would try to put it out and be more cautious about disposing of their cigarettes and campfires.


#3    Doug1o29

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Posted 13 June 2013 - 09:21 PM

View PostStill Waters, on 13 June 2013 - 03:36 PM, said:

Small fires in the Amazon rain forest are having a huge impact.

A new satellite imaging technique has allowed scientists to see Amazonian fires burning beneath the jungle canopy, called "understory fires," which were previously difficult to detect. These fires destroy several times more forest than is taken out by deforestation each year, according to a new study,

http://www.livescien...roy-amazon.html
Interesting detail:  it takes about four years for the forest to restore its photosynthetic capacity.  Not much harm there.

Also, if the vegetation is charred, rather than consumed, as often happens in wet conditions, then the charcoal remains behind in the soil, forming a carbon sink.  This is one case where fire may not be such a bad thing.
Doug

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Science is the father of knowledge, but opinion breeds ignorance. --Hippocrates
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#4    sergeantflynn

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 11:24 AM

Blame cigarettes and campfires . Easiest thing to blame .


#5    Merc14

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 01:41 PM

They didn't even know the fires were there but they know what caused them?  LMAO.  How ridulous is that?  Fires in forests are a necessity and massive damage occurs when they are not allowed to happen, a lesson learned the hard way here in the US.  Even more silly is to think the carbon needs to be added to some climate model!  Hell the climate models are already so far off that the "climatologists" are tearing their hair out, yet the author here suggests that adding even more carbon is a good thing!

Edited by Merc14, 14 June 2013 - 01:45 PM.

Nice midterms democrats.  As Pelosi says, "Embrace the suck".

#6    Br Cornelius

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 01:44 PM

View PostMerc14, on 14 June 2013 - 01:41 PM, said:

They didn't even know the fires were there but they know what caused them?  LMAO.  How ridulous is that?  Fires in forests are a necessity and massive damage occurs when they are not allowed to happen, a lesson learned the hard way here in the US.  Even more silly is to think the carbon needs to be added to some climate model!  Hell the climate models are already so far off that the "climatologists" are tearing their hair out, yet the author here suggests that adding even more carbon is a good thing!

Funny.

It has been observed that the rainforests have been moving from been carbon sinks/neutral to been carbon emitters. Details like this help to explain that.


Br Cornelius

Edited by Br Cornelius, 14 June 2013 - 01:47 PM.

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#7    Sundew

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 05:06 PM

While it's always fashionable to blame man for things like this, and it could be from human activity like nearby slash and burn agriculture, it may also be a natural phenomenon. In the southeastern U.S., wildfires frequently start at the beginning of the wet season, usually in May or early June, when conditions create thunderstorms with cloud to ground lightning and little to no rainfall. This coincides with the end of the dry season where there can be a considerable amount of dry combustable material. True the Amazon is not the S.E. U.S., but it is known for ferocious electrical storms and there's a lot of biomass to burn.


#8    Br Cornelius

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 05:33 PM

View PostSundew, on 14 June 2013 - 05:06 PM, said:

While it's always fashionable to blame man for things like this, and it could be from human activity like nearby slash and burn agriculture, it may also be a natural phenomenon. In the southeastern U.S., wildfires frequently start at the beginning of the wet season, usually in May or early June, when conditions create thunderstorms with cloud to ground lightning and little to no rainfall. This coincides with the end of the dry season where there can be a considerable amount of dry combustable material. True the Amazon is not the S.E. U.S., but it is known for ferocious electrical storms and there's a lot of biomass to burn.
If its increasing then it is likely a consequence of extended and deeper dry periods caused by climate change.

I watch these stories with interest as part of a bigger jigsaw of facts consequent to climate change. The skill in thinking is to discern patterns and fit them to the available data.

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#9    Doug1o29

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 05:38 PM

View PostMerc14, on 14 June 2013 - 01:41 PM, said:

They didn't even know the fires were there but they know what caused them?  LMAO.  How ridulous is that?  Fires in forests are a necessity and massive damage occurs when they are not allowed to happen, a lesson learned the hard way here in the US.  Even more silly is to think the carbon needs to be added to some climate model!  Hell the climate models are already so far off that the "climatologists" are tearing their hair out, yet the author here suggests that adding even more carbon is a good thing!
Fire functions as a part of many ecologies, especially here in the US where fires set by native Americans have been happening for thousands of years.

The US began fire control efforts in the 1890s because settler's homesteads were getting burned up.  1200 people died in the Peshitgo Fire (1871); 400 at Cloquet; unknown hundreds in the Great Idaho fire (three million acres; 1910), Silvertip Fire, Tillamook Fire, Miramichi Fire, and thousands of others.  It was to put an end to this death and destruction that we quit letting them happen.

That, of course, changed the nature of our forests - and the nature of our fires.  Instead of a small fire every five or six years, we get massive fires every fifty years.  Also, we build our homes in places where there is high fire hazard and then we don't do anything to protect them - that's what's going on in Colorado right now.  I've been to the Black Forest and to Four-Mile Canyon - I was a Fire Scout (Field Observer) on the Olde Stage Fire, literally, the other side of the hill from Four Mile Canyon.  The places are full of houses that don't belong in such fire-prone areas.

I'm not suggesting we conduct "landscape burns;" though, I've heard fire people calling for that.  I support the judicious use of fire in the modern forest, but mostly, I'd rather cut them than burn them.

But there are places, like the Amazon, where fires are not part of the ecology and don't belong there.  These are mostly extremely wet, tropical areas.  In these areas, fire can be used to create carbon sinks.  By charring vegetation instead of burning it up, we can increase soil fertility and sequester carbon at the same time.  Again, the judicious use of fire as a tool of land/resource/environmental management.  In dry North America about 90% of fires are human-caused.  In the Amazon, nearly all fires (maybe actually all) are human caused.  Doesn't take a Ph.D. to figure out that if you see smoke in the Amazon, there's a person around who set a fire.

How far off is "so far off?"  A model - any model - is either good enough for its intended purpose, or it isn't.  How well a model predicts a variable, like temperature or precip, or CO2-content of the air, can be expressed as a ratio between the variation explained by the model and the total variation in the data.  It's called r-square.  So how about it?  What r-square would be good enough for you and why?  Just what job are you trying to do with a climate model?  If that one isn't doing the job for you, why not use a different one?  There are about 300 to choose from, so why are you deniers using the very worst ones?

I work with tree rings.  I don't need to know how much rain fell last week, or last month.  Quarterly totals come about as close as I need, or can predict from tree ring chronologies; thermal convection may affect weekly totals, but it isn't nearly so important in quarterly totals.  Most climate models can tell me how much rain fell in the summer of 1886, or the winter of 1791, without any problem.  They're plenty accurate for what I need.

One other thought:  I hardly ever use climate models because TREE RING CHRONOLOGIES ARE MORE ACCURATE.  I don't need a climate model to tell that temps are going up.  Why do you want to use a less-accurate technique when there are better ones available?  I really don't understand you deniers.
Doug

Edited by Doug1o29, 14 June 2013 - 05:41 PM.

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Science is the father of knowledge, but opinion breeds ignorance. --Hippocrates
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#10    pallidin

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 05:45 PM

With deforestation leaving behind unwanted wood that dries, it doesn't surprise me that this is a fuel for accidental human-caused fires, or nature-caused fires(lightning strikes)


#11    Doug1o29

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Posted 14 June 2013 - 05:51 PM

View Postpallidin, on 14 June 2013 - 05:45 PM, said:

With deforestation leaving behind unwanted wood that dries, it doesn't surprise me that this is a fuel for accidental human-caused fires, or nature-caused fires(lightning strikes)
In the tropics wood rots out very fast.  Very little accumulates.  Most of tropical soil fertility is locked up in plants.  The soils are so nutrient-starved that plants orient their roots upward to reach decaying vegetation for its nutrients.

Most fuel accumulation is very seasonal.  A wet spring produces a lot of vegetation that then dries out during the summer, producing huge fires in the fall.  Dead matter reaches its maximum after about six years in most areas.  The rest of the fuel load is in the form of living plants, including trees.
Doug

If I have seen farther than other men, it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants. --Bernard de Chartres
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Science is the father of knowledge, but opinion breeds ignorance. --Hippocrates
Ignorance is not an opinion. --Adam Scott

#12    jesspy

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 12:58 PM

There was a show on the other day called " toughest place to be a fire fighter" He went to the amazon where there are heaps of fires lit by people clearing land for grazing. They are little spot fires mostly but in the dry season they get bigger. Also lightening is also a trigger. Fire is also used to scare people off their land too.

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#13    Doug1o29

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 03:37 PM

View Postjesspy, on 16 June 2013 - 12:58 PM, said:

There was a show on the other day called " toughest place to be a fire fighter" He went to the amazon where there are heaps of fires lit by people clearing land for grazing. They are little spot fires mostly but in the dry season they get bigger. Also lightening is also a trigger. Fire is also used to scare people off their land too.
We used to have a lot of trouble with arson fires in the Appalachians (still do).  Moonshiners would try to burn out the competition.  Capitalism at its finest.
Doug

If I have seen farther than other men, it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants. --Bernard de Chartres
The beginning of knowledge is the realization that one doesn't and cannot know everything.
Science is the father of knowledge, but opinion breeds ignorance. --Hippocrates
Ignorance is not an opinion. --Adam Scott

#14    Yes_Man

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Posted 17 June 2013 - 09:47 PM

what about volcanic activity? isnt there a town in the US where it is abandoned and the area is always on fire or burning? Silent Hill is based on it


#15    Doug1o29

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Posted 18 June 2013 - 01:02 PM

View PostThe New Richard Nixon, on 17 June 2013 - 09:47 PM, said:

what about volcanic activity? isnt there a town in the US where it is abandoned and the area is always on fire or burning? Silent Hill is based on it
There are some burning coal seams that have been going for a hundred plus years.  One on the Theodore Roosevelt National Forest appears to have been natural; there's an area of several thousand acres covered with coal clinkers.
Doug

If I have seen farther than other men, it is because I stood on the shoulders of giants. --Bernard de Chartres
The beginning of knowledge is the realization that one doesn't and cannot know everything.
Science is the father of knowledge, but opinion breeds ignorance. --Hippocrates
Ignorance is not an opinion. --Adam Scott




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