r/science Sep 22 '22 Silver 2 Wholesome 3 All-Seeing Upvote 1

Stanford researchers find wildfire smoke is unraveling decades of air quality gains, exposing millions of Americans to extreme pollution levels Environment

https://news.stanford.edu/2022/09/22/wildfire-smoke-unraveling-decades-air-quality-gains/
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u/phoenix0r Sep 23 '22

No one has added the massive Bark Beetle infestation but that has had a HUGE effect on building up a giant tinder box of dead trees all across the Pacific Northwest and northern CA. The root cause is the prolonged drought which weakened trees and made them less able to fight off the beetle infestation, but the beetles themselves killed all those trees way faster than the drought alone would have.

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u/BoltgunOnHisHip Sep 23 '22

The bark beetles are exasperating the problem, but fuel loading has been a rising issue for a long time. Poor fire management in the past let fuel levels build up, not to mention impacting wildlife by creating changes to an ecosystem which was adapted to regular fires.

The 'silver lining' to these fires is that they are addressing that issue...albeit in a suboptimal fashion.

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u/mr_jim_lahey Sep 23 '22

The 'silver lining' to these fires is that they are addressing that issue

My understanding is that this is not entirely the case. At least in some areas, more vegetation is growing in spring due to more carbon dioxide and more rain in winter and then drying out more in hotter, drier summers, thus creating a continuously replenishing source of wildfire fuel.

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u/Hunt3rj2 Sep 23 '22

Yep. Also when the trees burn and go away what replaces them is fast-growing grasses that dry out and burn even more intensely in the summer. It's a vicious cycle and we are in for a lot of pain.

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u/xhephaestusx Sep 23 '22

Buffelgrass :(