Ryan Maue's 2007 ACE Estimate

A non-global warming explanation for the lack of moisture/drought in the US Southwest deals with the lack of Hurricane activity in the Eastern Pacific basin. The moisture, upper-level outflow, and accentuation of the monsoon can all be traced back partially to EPAC storms, which are highly sensitive to SST conditions in the equatorial Pacific (ENSO). Simple reanalysis calculations for inactive minus active EPAC seasons shows very significant deficits of monthly mean cloud water, precipitable water, and surface specific humidity (among a host of other variables) for Aug-Sept months over the US Southwest.

This image is constructed as follows: I take the Accumulated Cyclone Energy over the Easter Pacific TC basin for the months of July – September (Oct is usually quiet). I calculate the seasonal deviations from the 1979-2007 mean EPAC ACE — which is fairly bimodal — as one would expect with the sensitivity to ENSO. I then take the active and inactive years (0.5 sigma) and composite the August & September column cloud water (or any other variable) differences (date obtained here from Japanese Reanalysis Project; one could use NCAR/NCEP or ERA40). So, I have 10 years of active and 9 years of inactive ACE years in the EPAC. The following example shows that a greater than 20% difference in cloud water is associated with whatever is concomitant with active vs. inactive EPAC hurricane seasons. This means that a researcher or a responsible journalist would ask: what weather patterns or climate regimes are typically associated with decreased rainfall in the Southwest US, which is a desert, if anyone cared to notice? Instead you get hyperbolic, speculative propaganda about an “upcoming century of fires”.

epac clouds

Despite what Harry Reid says and no matter how hard CNN pushes the Planet in Peril to link global warming to these fires (also NBC, CBS, ABC and the rest of the so-called mainstream media), it is partially the lack of hurricanes that has contributed to the excessive drought conditions — talk about an inconvenient truth. And, by the way, the Northern Hemisphere Tropical Cyclone activity is still on pace to be the weakest since 1977 — Tropical Activity


  1. Steve McIntyre
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 5:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

    TRansferred from here. Also see Ryan’s webpage linked in the post.

  2. Thor
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 6:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Hurricanes cause rain? Who knew?

  3. Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 6:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Tsonis’ hypothesis is that a warming globe leads to more El Ninos and fewer La Ninas, which is what has happened since 1976 ( link ) .

    El Ninos bring more rain to Southern California, not less ( link ).

    So, the causal train is AGW -leads to- more El Ninos -leads to- more Southern California rain. Rain and vegetative moisture are bad for fires. There should be fewer Southern California fires, not more, under the AGW scenario.

    Concerning Ryan’s map, note that some areas experience dryness while others experience wetness. Note the ample moisture over Texas, which experienced one of the most magnificent wet seasons on record, bringing life to areas that are normally near-desert and replenishing deep soil moisture which will provide benefits in seasons to come. The map also shows that the southeastern US should be wetter (though that’s not the case in 2007), another good thing.

  4. Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 6:26 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Oh, thank God for the antidote for the epidemic of pure stupidity that seems to be affecting all MSM talking heads concerning these fires.

  5. Murray Duffin
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 6:28 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Yeah, the analysis seems to get it right for Texas, but dead wrong for Georgia. Maybe need to add some Atlantic or GOM effects.

  6. Yancey Ward
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 7:06 PM | Permalink | Reply

    David Smith,

    If you try that argument, the reversion will be to the argument that more rain in S. Cal leads to more brush and grass growth that then leads to more fires.

  7. Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 7:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Dr. Kristen L. Corbosiero (UCLA) produced a very informative “class project” webpage (while at SUNY) with a relevant discussion on the rainfall that can be attributed directly with Eastern Pacific hurricanes. Her analysis highlights the % of rainfall that falls directly because of Eastern Pacific tropical cyclones. This image shows that those hurricanes are directly responsible for up to 25% of the average warm-season rainfall :

    An obvious candidate for this rainfall contribution is Hurricane Henriette of 2007. While the storm didn’t track specifically over the Southwest US, it did add considerable moisture and cloud water downstream.

  8. Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 7:36 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Hmmm, Yancy, interesting point. :) Let’s see what the rainfall record shows ( link ).

    What I see is
    2002: normal
    2003: dry
    2004: wet
    2005: normal
    2006: dry

    Perhaps the wet 2004 led to excess brush which dried and burned in 2006. OK, but if that’s the case, then the same reasoning can be applied to many multi-year periods in Southern California, including in the 19′th Century.

    What I do see in the record is a period of rather modest year to year change (1900-1940) neighbored by periods of greater variability. Why the change? I dunno but it would be interesting to learn the reason.

  9. Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 8:01 PM | Permalink | Reply

    To switch to Ryan’s warm-season rainfall point, more El Ninos should lead to more East Pacific ACE which leads to more warm-season Southern California rainfall.

    Since we’ve seen more El Ninos since 1976, “when AGW began”, we should be seeing more warm-season rainfall in SCAL and less fire activity thanks to AGW.

  10. windansea
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 8:20 PM | Permalink | Reply


    medieval mega droughts :)

  11. Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 8:48 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Ryan your webpage includes a time series of Northern Hemisphere ACE which seems to show a pattern, particularly the rise until the mid-1990s and then an uneven fall since. Any thoughts on whether a pattern exists, and what might drive it? Thanks.

  12. bender
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 9:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re: #10
    medieval megadrought = old news for CA readers

    Re: #3 El Nino circulatory mode as a primary venting pathway for AGW heat. Discussed at CA almost a year ago:

    David Smith: Gators crush LSU in rematch at SEC championship game?

  13. Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 9:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

    David Re #11. The Eastern Pacific during the 1990-1994 was particularly active while the North Atlantic was asleep. The roles reversed in 1995, as the Atlantic obviously saw many more Cape Verde, long-track, huge-ACE storms. I believe it is pretty straightforward, as you have hypothesized on the YTD thread, African Easterly Waves (AEWs) are likely the culprit. Many EPAC systems can be traced back to the coast of Africa. If the wave develops in the Atlantic, obviously it is not going to make it to the EPAC, so the seedling population decreases. This year, 2007, the ridiculous vertical shear disrupted the AEWs long before they crossed Central America. Another applicable climate mode to describe the relationship between the cross-equatorial Atlantic Ocean SST gradient and ACE is the Atlantic Meridional Mode (AMM), most recently heavily researched by J. Kossin and D. Vimont.

    The Atlantic and Eastern Pacific have become strongly anti-correlated in integrated cyclone energy since the 1980s.

  14. Kristen Byrnes
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 10:04 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Several of the fires have been set by arsonists, does AGW cause arson too?

  15. Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 10:10 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Having grown up in California, starting in SoCal and now residing in NoCal you get used to this annual announcement in the late spring/early summer from the expert of the moment–I mean every single year you hear this.

    1. If it was a below average rainfall winter.

    “The lack of rain will lead to dryer brush and a bad fire season”

    2. If it was an above average rainfall winter.

    “All this rain will lead to an excess of brush and a bad fire season”

    3. Average rainfall

    Either or both of the above.

  16. Curt
    Posted Oct 24, 2007 at 11:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

    jeez — You beat me to it. I was just about to post the exact same comment. This has amused/appalled me for years. The only possible rationale that I see for this is that wet winters could be bad for brush fires in the next dry season, because the brush is always going to dry out, and there will be more of it; dry winters could be bad for forest fires, because the existing foliage would be dryer. Of course, this week, we’re having awful fires of both types…

  17. crosspatch
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 12:30 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The reason is, I think, the very long dry spell that most of California has between the time school lets out and the time school starts again. There is basically a 10 to 12 week period of absolutely no rain whatsoever with very warm temperatures and very low humidity every year. So if the wet season was exceptionally wet, particularly late in the season when things were growing, there will be high fuel loads for brush. If it was wet early in the season, it won’t matter so much. If it is dry, particularly if it is dry for more than one year, the brush loads are lower but as you mentioned the forest fire danger increases when trees become stressed and are attacked by insects and die. And then there are the eucalyptus trees which are just a major hazard at any time of year in any kind of a season. They might as well be gasoline trees.

  18. Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 12:36 AM | Permalink | Reply

    A paper called “Annual Analyses of Basin and Hemispheric Tropical Cyclone Indices” by Levinson, Lawrimore, Gleason and Wallis (NOAA/NESDIS National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, North Carolina, 2006) analyzed the occurrence of hurricanes / cyclones in the various global basins. the following figures are (top two) from that report, while the third inverts the East North Pacific onto the North Atlantic emphasizing the inverse-correlation of the two.

  19. Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 1:45 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Don’t even get me started about Earthquake advice. I’d love to see the study that actually measures survival rates of people who stand in doorways as opposed to just imagining that it’s a good idea. Sorry Steve, stopping now or taking to unthreaded.

  20. Allan
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 3:05 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Is it that there have been fires that is of concern or the destruction of property.
    In SE Australia there has been a movement of people (tree changers) into the wild land/urban interface and onto hobby farms.
    Not all have been educated into how to prepare their properties for bush/wild fires in areas that have historically have had major fires run through them.
    Maybe this is what has happened in California.
    Management of Forest/wild lands over the past twenty years has been a comprise between those who live in the bush and those who have some romantic notion that wild lands/bush will look after itself!

  21. Lance in AZ
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 3:40 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Nice, simple article on drought and the various oscillations:

    “More than half (52%) of the spatial and temporal variance in multidecadal drought frequency over the conterminous United States is attributable to the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). An additional 22% of the variance in drought frequency is related to a complex spatial pattern of positive and negative trends in drought occurrence possibly related to increasing Northern Hemisphere temperatures or some other unidirectional climate trend. Recent droughts with broad impacts over the conterminous U.S. (1996, 1999-2002) were associated with North Atlantic warming (positive AMO) and northeastern and tropical Pacific cooling (negative PDO). Much of the long-term predictability of drought frequency may reside in the multidecadal behavior of the North Atlantic Ocean. Should the current positive AMO (warm North Atlantic) conditions persist into the upcoming decade, we suggest two possible drought scenarios that resemble the continental-scale patterns of the 1930s (positive PDO) and 1950s (negative PDO) drought.”
    —McCabe (2004)


  22. Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 4:33 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re #12 bender that’s my fear. The Gators are now on a mission. Chomp chomp.

  23. MarkW
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 4:43 AM | Permalink | Reply


    That’s easy for you to say.

  24. MattN
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 5:49 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #22, couldn’t have said it better.

    2007 Northern hemisphere tropical activity nears historic low: http://www.coaps.fsu.edu/~maue/tropical/

    Tell me again how Global Warming…I mean, Climate Change, increases the number an severity of hurricanes……

  25. Louis Hissink
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 6:16 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Getting to the first post: Huh?

  26. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 8:15 AM | Permalink | Reply

    People freak out about hurricanes and tropical storms, but they are an important rainfall contribution for some areas. Take the southeast (extending down into FL), for example. Two quiet years, and it’s drought conditions.

  27. ed
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 10:56 AM | Permalink | Reply

    In San Diego we have, have had, and will have a repeating pattern. Fuel acculates over time, faster when there is above average rainfall and slower when there is little rainfall. When there is enough fuel and the right weather, everything burns and the cycle
    resets. This isn’t going to change. More rainfall would probably make the fires less frequent and much larger. The only scenerio I can envision with no fires is no rain at all.

    The only thing unusual about this weeks fires is the number of them. It is not yet clear if some of them were caused by humans.

  28. Aaron Wells
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 11:18 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re 26

    This is absolutely true for the Carolina’s. I live in North Carolina. We traditionally don’t get enough water from normal weather patterns alone. We absolutely depend upon occasional hurricanes to keep our aquifers supplied. This is one reason we are in such drought situation currently. The same high pressure system which parks itself over the southeast in the summer that keeps fronts from bringing rain has also been steering hurricanes away.

  29. Michael Jankowski
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 11:21 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The only thing unusual about this weeks fires is the number of them. It is not yet clear if some of them were caused by humans.

    Actually, they are apparently about to declare one of the fires is due arson. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/10/24/national/main3401265.shtml

    The story also mentions people being caught trying to set fires (one shot to death while fleeing police).

  30. Andrey Levin
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 11:22 AM | Permalink | Reply

    The only scenario I can envision with no fires is no rain at all.

    Here in Pacific NW, at least in coastal zone west of Coastal mountains, rain is so often and winters so mild, that dead wood, brushes, and grass do not accumulate – it rot.

  31. Paddy L
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 12:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The only way to alleviate damage caused by fire cycles in southern California is by fuel management and construction of fire breaks. Federal and state agencies have been consistently prevented from managing forest and brush areas by environmentalists’ irresponsible administrative appeals and litigation. Of course, unwise zoning and land use regulation that allowed development in fore prone areas contributed to the problem. But, those horses left the barn long ago.

    Unless the political environment that prevents management of fuels and fire hazards changes, the Southern California fire cycle and the massive soil erosion that result will continue. Catastrophic property damage and loss of lives are the inevitable byproducts.

  32. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 1:08 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Gee, you think maybe going in and removing the dry brush (aka fuel) during the dry part of a wet-dry cycle might make it so when a fire starts it isn’t as bad? But that would be messing with nature, so of course we can’t. Think of the bunnierabbits.

    And I hereby nominate Ryan to replace Hansen ASAP.

  33. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 1:12 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Although this really isn’t a non-global warming explanation; everyone knows AGW causes a lack of hurricane activity.

  34. Roger Dueck
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 1:16 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Paddy,#31 this was my observation. The Canadian Parks Service used controlled burns and fuel management as a fire abatement tool for years prior to the Yellowstone fire. Gord the Ward, a friend on the Park Service living in Banff, Alberta, will lecture on this topic for hours. The CA fires are another example of misplaced sentiment replacing reality. The brush lands in S Cal are a forest with a HUGE amount of ground fuel, the driver of forest fires. Controlled burns, fire breaks, access roads etc. IN the National Parks prevent the kind of disaster that happened in Yellowstone. California is held hostage by eco-terrorists on many issues and this is yet another. Of course, Anderson Cooper (CNN) has the temerity to suggest that “some people” are blaming AGW. HAH!

  35. Mark T
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 1:29 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Although this really isn’t a non-global warming explanation; everyone knows AGW causes a lack of hurricane activity.

    I always thought it caused both increased and decreased hurricane activity, as well as increased drought and increased precipitation (i.e. decreased drought) and increased and decreased storms and… sigh.


  36. M. Jeff
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 1:40 PM | Permalink | Reply

    From today’s Wall Street Journal: “Fires Turn Up Heat On a Key Advocate Of California Shrubs”.

    Founding director of the California Chaparral Institute, Richard Halsey: “I awaken each morning to a view of old-growth chaparral coating a nearby mountain like a carpet of green velvet,” he writes.

    “On Tuesday, Mr. Halsey found himself standing on the roof of his century-old home, garden hoses at the ready, as wildfire spread across the chaparral and torched houses a quarter-mile away.”

  37. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 1:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Well, yes, of course. Everyone knows AGW increases hurricane activity.

    Here’s a link to more on the topic. Start there and work your way backwards.

  38. Roger Dueck
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 2:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Nice one, Sam! I think I’ll do that!

  39. Philip_B
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 3:38 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Western Australia illustrates how large natural bushfires can be. We have a similar climate and vegetation to SoCal, although without the mountains. We also have very large areas of forest and scrub that are virtually unpopulated. Bushfires in these areas are just allowed to burn. Million hectare (2.5 million acre) fires occur every few years. I can’t be more precise, because no one seems to keep good record of these fires, presumably because they have no economic impact. In 1974 a fire burned through an estimated 29 million hectares (71 million acres) north and east of Kalgoorlie.

  40. Sam Urbinto
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 5:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The only reason it’s an issue here, is that houses are burning down and people being displaced. I would think those that believe it’s more important not to take out dry brush than it is that it might (will) catch fire and make a million people leave while 1000 houses burn down, those people aren’t concerned about others or actually hate people in general and don’t care. “Save the owls, who cares if a bunch of loggers lose their job! Protect the environment!!!”

  41. Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 9:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

    The early and mid 1970s (thru 1977) were characterized by mostly below-normal storm activity in all three major NH basins (Atlantic, East Pacific, West Pacific) and above-normal activity in the Northern Indian Ocean (NIO).

    The current year 2007 is marked by similar simultaneous weak activity in the Big Three basins. We don’t yet know about the NIO, as much of its season occurs in November and December. If the NIO is active then I will wonder if some oscillation (PDO?) shift is underway.

  42. hswiseman
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 10:55 PM | Permalink | Reply

    RE: 42

    I cast my vote for the negative PDO. This is one hefty La Nina and events of this magnitude are often a pretty good tip-off to a major pattern shift.

  43. hswiseman
    Posted Oct 25, 2007 at 11:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Although you could make a good case for the AMO looking at this brief animation.

  44. John Baltutis
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 1:07 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re: #40

    Concur. As one San Diego resident who had to evacuate twice, the enviros and their religious beliefs WRT Gaia, make it nearly impossible, because of draconian “protect the enviornment and nonhuman species” laws, to cut down brush and clear forests and wooded areas, especially in the numerous canyons that permeate this county. The canyons are where the fires act like blowtorches: Santa Ana winds and ample fuel. The 2003 fires destroyed over 3,000 homes four-years ago (fire path 1/4 mile from where I’m residing). This year’s fires (almost four years to the day of the last) destroyed almost 1,300 this time (fires aren’t out yet, so the numbers might climb), Thankfully, I’m back home and most fires should be contained by the weekend.

    The green movement is antihumankind, period; otherwise, most of the civilized world would have converted to nuclear power for their electrical energy needs. CO2 is just a strawman designed to eliminate all power generation, since they’ve basically banned nuclear.

  45. Judith Curry
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 7:07 AM | Permalink | Reply

    It does look like the PDO started a shift ca. 1998, but has oscillated. Many think the shift has started to solidify since about 2003, but we need a few more years of data to clarify.

  46. MDM
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 7:36 AM | Permalink | Reply

    RE: 42

    I cast my vote for the negative PDO.

    Maybe you should rephrase that. Sounds a bit like consensus science.

  47. Paul Linsay
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 7:40 AM | Permalink | Reply

    I don’t know about S. CA but the Indians who lived around Yosemite used to set fires in the fall to burn out the scrub. That insured that the valley of the Yosemite was a savanna that provided good forage for the animals that they hunted. Without the annual burns it’s now woodland. The same was true here in the Northeast. If you look at pictures from the sixteen and seventeen hundreds, New England had much more open land and pasture than today. When the first Europeans arrived they were amazed that they could drive carriages through the forests. These days you have a hard time walking ten feet off a path because of all the underbrush. The enviros don’t understand what N. America looked like when the Indians were in charge. Forest management was very very heavy handed. And they didn’t care about the smog from the burning brush.

  48. BarryW
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 8:05 AM | Permalink | Reply


    Discover magazine had an article sometime back talking about the changes in the California forests due to the lack of Indian forest management. They had been using the acorns for food for quite some time and had been selectively encoraging the growth of certain trees that they preferred. So much for the “natural world” of the Amerind, before the white man.

  49. Will C.
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 8:17 AM | Permalink | Reply

    “There’s no earthly way of knowing, which direction we are going, There’s no knowing where we’re rowing, or which way the river’s flowing, is it raining is it snowing is a hurricane a-blowing? Not a speck of light is showing, So the danger must be growing. Are the fires of hell a-glowing? Is the grisly reaper mowing? Yes! The danger must be growing For the rowers keep on rowing! And they’re certainly not showing Any signs that they are slowing!”

    Seemed like an appropriate metaphor for the times…

    Now, someone guess the movie without googling…

  50. Tim Ball
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 8:24 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Yes, they preach and practice controlled burns and fuel management now. However, they also learned the hard way as did the US Park Service with the Yellowstone fires. For years the practice in Canadian parks was to stop all fires and with no fuel management undergrowth accumulated. A fire in Riding Mountain National park along the escarpment in Manitoba took hold, as I recall it was sometime in the 1960s, and they could not put it out. It burned a large area of the park and the effects are still visible with shorter trees today. It forced them to change to what your friend preaches today. An important point about both Riding Mountain and Yellowstone is the regrowing trees are still small, however the recovery was far more rapid than experts foretold. This parallels the rapid recovery arond Mt St Helens and speaks to the false assumption that plants and animals will not cope with rapid climate change. Change is always quick or rapid in nature and there are also built in adaptive mechanisms.

  51. Allen Cichanski
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 8:34 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Clearly, the need to contain wildfires in the California mountains has been understood for a very long time. My father was in the Civilian Conservation Corp in the 1930s at Camp Miller Canyon in the San Bernardino Mtns. near Crestline and Lake Arrowhead. The main “conservation” work the kids did was cutting firebreaks up the steep slopes and canyons. Have these firebreaks been maintained for the last 70+ years? If not, why not? Would they have made any difference to the fires of the last few days? For a great story about California’s problems such as these fires read John McPhee’s “Control of Nature”. When the fires started I said to my wife, “I wonder how long until the politicians blame these on global warming?” Of course, in their startling scientific stupidity, the politicians didn’t disappoint..

  52. Andrey Levin
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 9:16 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Couple of companies, notably Dynamotive of Vancouver, are developing small scale mobile plants to convert dry biomass into liquid fuel by pyrolysis. Resulted bio-oil could be economically transported for further refining into diesel fuel, heating oil, and char. This technology could eliminate air pollution problem from controlled burns, and seems ideal for forest management, especially in regions suffering from pine bug infestation. Technical difficulties are plentiful, thought.

  53. ed
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 10:56 AM | Permalink | Reply

    #44. I think outsiders don’t understand how open space works in San Diego. San Diego is covered by a network of canyons. These have steep sides and tend to channel wind creating a natural furnace. They are difficult to build in so developers, when required to provide open space, designate the canyons. The result is fire pathways that interlock with with housing like fingers. These are pervasive which is why a brush fire can burn through the city all the way to the coast.

    Once canyons are designated open space, they can’t be cleared and must remain in the natural state. Unfortunately their natural state is to burn periodically. While I favor controlled burns in the back county, I can’t imagine any conditions which would allow a controlled burn of an urban canyon.

  54. MrPete
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 11:21 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Colorado has a successful slash->mulch program. No burning needed.
    Residents collect slash (branches up to 6-8 inch diameter; they recommend removing everything from ground level up to eight feet.) and drop it off, at no charge.
    A huge (1 meter diameter inlet feed!) chopper grinds the slash into mulch.
    Residents can come and take as much mulch as they like. Dig it yourself for free, or pay $4 for a bucket loader to fill your pickup truck. Oh, and please contribute a can of food for the regional homeless food pantry.
    Works great, a win-win-win situation. All run by volunteers; the county pays for the equipment rental.

  55. Jerry M
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 12:25 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Re 53: I read an article this morning about Lake Arrowhead, where they have done the fuel break, tree removal, etc. That community has very little damage and fires. Seems to be some correlation – and I am a statistician.

  56. SteveSadlov
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 12:42 PM | Permalink | Reply

    RE: #36 – give me my ever encroaching chaparral, an afternoon, and some basic hand tools, and I have been known to do it to it. Makes good kindling …. :lol:

  57. SteveSadlov
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 12:45 PM | Permalink | Reply

    RE: #47 – Yes. They burned statewide.

  58. SteveSadlov
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 12:50 PM | Permalink | Reply

    RE: #54 – Santa Barbara fire of ’91 was similar. Followed a canyon through the mesa that’s between US 101 and Rte 192. One of these days, it will happen on the SF Peninsula where there are also marine terraces with intervening canyons. A couple of them go right through Hillsborough – sort of a Bel Air / Jupiter Island type of place with multi million dollar homes.

  59. SteveSadlov
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 12:52 PM | Permalink | Reply

    RE: #55 – I slash at my place. The leavings get sorted into kindling and mulch. Me and my neighbors have sort of a mulch collective … :lol:

  60. Tony Edwards
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 5:24 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Will C, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, of course. That was easy, one of my favourites.

  61. tom s
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 6:57 PM | Permalink | Reply

    re: 26

    Yes tropical storms are very important to rainfall budgets, but if the nutcases have their way they will be trying to thwart and move tropical cyclones. Yeah, that’s what we need…

    Former Naval Physicist: Government Can Control Hurricanes


  62. nevket240
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 7:05 PM | Permalink | Reply

    if it wasn’t air pollution when the indigenous people carried out controlled burns, why is it air pollution now???

    if it alright to have the Precautionary Principle for CO2 induced CC, why was the same principle abandoned by the same RWMHT in regards to fuel reduction??
    (hint, it destroyed their crops)


  63. tom s
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 7:13 PM | Permalink | Reply

    27 ed says:

    ‘The only thing unusual about this weeks fires is the number of them. It is not yet clear if some of them were caused by humans.’

    Actually Ed, all of these fires in and around San Diego were caused by man one way or another unfortunately. There have been no thunderstorms in your area since when these fires began. These fires were either the result of arson or other non-intentional causes such as sparks, cigs, downed powerlines from wind etc….Once the fires get going, they feed off themselves of course but none of the recent fires across southern CA and San Diego were caused by natural forces, unless you argue mankind is a natural force of which I will agree. But pinning it on CO2 induced warming is…well…foolish, which you didn’t of course.

  64. tom s
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 7:22 PM | Permalink | Reply

    re: 49 Will C. says:

    October 26th, 2007 at 8:17 am
    “There’s no earthly way of knowing, which direction we are going, There’s no knowing where we’re rowing, or which way the river’s flowing, is it raining is it snowing is a hurricane a-blowing? Not a speck of light is showing, So the danger must be growing. Are the fires of hell a-glowing? Is the grisly reaper mowing? Yes! The danger must be growing For the rowers keep on rowing! And they’re certainly not showing Any signs that they are slowing!”

    Seemed like an appropriate metaphor for the times…

    Now, someone guess the movie without googling…

    WILLY WONKA! The original with Gene Wilder…best scene of the movie!

  65. tom s
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 7:27 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Tony Edwards says:

    October 26th, 2007 at 5:24 pm
    Will C, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, of course. That was easy, one of my favourites.

    Beat me to it…shoulda checked before I posted I guess.

  66. JP
    Posted Oct 26, 2007 at 9:03 PM | Permalink | Reply

    Just another poor excuse of climatologists using sub-synotic scale weather events to push an agenda. If this occured 60 years ago, no one would have noticed. My father, during the Korean War, excercised with his fellow Marines in these very same regions before they shipped out overseas. Today, by virtue of sheer numbers (500,000- 1,000,000), civilains decided to anchor thier homesteads. One million evacuated civilians garner more attewntion tha do 18,000 members of the 3rd Marine Division.

    So, cool maritime polar airmasses from the Pacific, invade the 4-Corners Region and produce a dry 60mph wind accross a desert. These winds, in turn, cause hundreds of thousands of acres of what was previously uninhabitated scrub land to burn. In an El Nino episode, saturated warm pacific air masses would have caused massive mud slides. It sucks to live in So Cali. Either way you are screwed. Fire or mudslides: Insurance Companies hate both.

  67. Andrey Levin
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 1:22 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Re:#62, Nevket:

    …if it wasn’t air pollution when the indigenous people carried out controlled burns, why is it air pollution now???

    Because we live longer .

    BTW, indigenous people suffered from smoke too:

    According to the World Health Organisation, 1.5 million people die from illnesses caused by indoor smoke (also know as indoor air pollution) every year. Illnesses caused by indoor smoke include pneumonia, chronic respiratory disease and lung cancer. A child exposed to smoke in the home is two to three times more likely to catch pneumonia, which is one of the world’s leading killers of young children. Women who cook on solid fuels are up to four times more likely to suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, such as chronic bronchitis.


    I do not care about smoke in remote unpopulated areas, or when freighter burns heavy oil with 5% sulfur in the middle of the ocean. But in populated areas forest fire smoke is not healthy addition to air.

    I suspect you already heard this kind of reasoning from EPA and CARB officials… It is true, but the guys forget that in real world sometimes they have to choose between air pollution from controlled burn, or air pollution from wildfire with destruction of homes and lives…

  68. Geoff Sherrington
    Posted Oct 27, 2007 at 4:20 AM | Permalink | Reply

    Fires in Australia – occasional thoughts

    Many of the native flora of Australia have seeds that germinate poorly unless subjected to severe threatment, including bushfires. Nurseries and research bodies use high heat, immersion in strong sulphuric acid, abrasion with coarse sand paper and other ways to improve the germination rate.

    In the wild, there are hard decisions. In many places, the present landform is dedicated with reverence to the prudent past use of fire management by aborigines. Of course, more fires giving more seeds giving more vegetation can lead to hotter and more destructive fires, harder to control. In our World Heritage areas mere mortals are not allowed to light fires except in devices provided; but I think that aborigines can. I’m not sure. The national science body, the CSIRO, has predictive computer programs to model the effect of fire management regimes (I’ll wash my mouth with soap for mentioning models).

    This brings us to carbon trading schemes. In the Northern Territory, a fuel refinery is said to be paying aborigines to light smaller fires than before, on the grounds that each fire gives off less atmospheric carbon dioxide. Thus, CO2 is conserved and carbon credits can be traded. Of course, this is nonsense because it does not matter if CO2 comes from trees burned today or rotted a decade hence. Fire management will scarcely change the large tree distribution, because termites typically degrade them before they reach a size suitable for commercial harvesting.

    The termites create weak, waste areas in the lumber, if harvested, and they also emit a lot of methane after eating. I have seen estimates of termite methane farts enough to affect climate models. Not only termites attack vegetation, there are also witchetty grubs that bore holes in tree roots and decaying trees. These grubs contain sugars – hard to find in the bush – and are harvested and eaten by some aborigines. Aborigines as a group have a high incidence of both diabetes and alcoholism and they and others have been known to leave broken bottles in remote places, objects possibly able to cause fires like a magnifying glass.

    So, there are little feedback mechanisms nested in bigger feeddback mechanisms until we reach a serious size scale. More than once over the years, I have flown in a modern jet at night for an hour, with a bushfire front visible the whole time. That’s about 500 miles, I guess. The smoke from fires like this can be generated for many days before a change in wind, or a storm, puts them out. One of the main textural patterns on the outback ground seen from aircraft is past fire damage. Is it damage, or is it nature at work? Sure creates a lot of smoke and a lot of CO2.

    The native trees of Australia are almost all evergreens. They do not have Fall season. There is continuous accumulation of fire-loving underbrush. (I wonder of the Mauna Loa CO2 style of annual oscillations are present over Australia). Fire management is quite important in populated areas because of danger to people and property, but Australia is sparse and a lot of the time fires are just a way of life.

    I’m waiting for some bright spark to link them to AGW.

    Just about now, CA is reporting several diverse links between scientific observations and AGW. Some very long bows are being drawn. Fires seem to be another.

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