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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Vegetation Type, Not Rising Temperatures Key to Wildfire Occurrence

Rising temperatures do not mean there will be a higher risk for wildfires in a particular area. Instead, it more depends on the type of vegetation, according to research from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Montana State University, University of Washington and the University of Illinois-Urbana.

The massive 1988 Yellowstone N.P. fire approaching the Old Faithful tourist area.

This particular research looked at historical fire occurrence going back 17,000 years, by studying sediments found in the bottom of lakes in the state of Alaska.

Researchers concluded that historical changes fire frequencies coincided with changes in the type of vegetation in the area, more so than to rising temperatures alone.

An look at the 1988 Yellowstone fire from the air.

Although changing temperatures and moisture content set the stage for changes in wildfire frequency, they can often be trumped by changes in the distribution and abundance of plants, according to the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory press release.

There is much more detail in regards to this story from the press release.

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