Climate research targets Western wildfire smoke

Aug 15, 2013 by Shannon Dininny

Researchers are flying over Western wildfires to sample the thick smoke they emit to study its role in cloud formation and climate.

The data-gathering campaign is intended to help researchers flesh out one of the least understood areas of climate: the role of aerosols, or particles given off by wildfires, and how they evolve over time.

So far, the researchers from Brookhaven National Laboratory and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory say they're finding that the white smoke from smoldering fires actually has a cooling effect on the Earth, while the black smoke from a fire that is burning heavily has a warming effect.

However, wildfires also contribute to by releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide and by burning trees that would normally store carbon.

Explore further: Radioisotope studies show the continental crust formed 3 billion years ago

Related Stories

Climate change and wildfire: Synthesis of recent findings

May 21, 2013

Concerns continue to grow about the effects of climate change on fire. Wildfires are expected to increase 50 percent across the United States under a changing climate, over 100 percent in areas of the West by 2050 as projected ...

New way to identify 'smoked' grapes and wines

Jan 23, 2013

With climate change sparking concern about an increased risk of wildfires, scientists are reporting development of a way to detect grapes exposed to smoke from those fires, which otherwise could be vented ...

Extreme wildfires likely fueled by climate change

Aug 01, 2013

Climate change is likely fueling the larger and more destructive wildfires that are scorching vast areas of the American West, according to new research led by Michigan State University scientists.

NASA images: Oregon burning

Aug 07, 2013

On July 26, 2013, thunderstorms passed over southern Oregon, and lightning ignited dozens of difficult-to-control wildfires. Persistently dry weather since the beginning of 2013 had primed forests to burn, ...

Recommended for you

ESA image: Northwest Sardinia

Jul 03, 2015

This image over part of the Italian island of Sardinia comes from the very first acquisition by the Sentinel-2A satellite.

Experiments open window on landscape formation

Jul 02, 2015

University of Oregon geologists have seen ridges and valleys form in real time and—even though the work was a fast-forwarded operation done in a laboratory setting—they now have an idea of how climate ...

NASA image: Canadian wildfires continue

Jul 02, 2015

Canada is reeling from an early fire season this year as dozens of fires ravage at least three provinces of the country. All of the following reports are as of July 2, 2015.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.